Canada has no plans to further ease uranium investment rules – M inister

Feb 27 (Reuters) – Canada has no plans to further ease rules for foreign investment in uranium mines after Ottawa moved to give European Union firms more leeway, a senior official said on Thursday.

As part of a Canada-European Union free trade deal that was announced in principle last year, Ottawa waived a longstanding requirement that EU buyers take on a Canadian partner in uranium mines.

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said Canada did not intend to make the same offer to non-European companies such as Australia's Rio Tinto Ltd, which has uranium deposits in northern Saskatchewan.

"There are no current plans to do that," he told reporters, saying the easing of rules for European firms was a major step.

"It will take a while for it (the European Union waiver) to be fully negotiated but we hope it can be done within a year."

Pressed again about liberalizing investment rules for non-EU firms, he replied "Well, one step at a time."

Canada, the world's second biggest producer of uranium behind Kazakhstan, bans foreign companies from owning more than 49 percent of any uranium mine.

Rio Tinto is pressing Canada to change the policy, which dates back to the Cold War.