A three-nation trip by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi – to France, Germany and Canada – begins April 14, but metal analysts here are focusing on the Canadian leg. They expect India and Canada to sign a commercial deal for the supply of Canadian uranium for India’s nuclear power plants during Modi’s three-day visit.
In 2010, Canada and India signed a civil nuclear cooperation agreement, followed by another agreement in 2012. Since then, Canada’s main uranium supplier Cameco has been in talks with Indian officials about supplying uranium to India. Diplomatic circles of both nations expect the deal to be sealed when Modi visits Canada next week.
Modi dropped several hints about the deal in his Facebook posts. He said India was looking into resuming its civil nuclear energy cooperation with Canada, especially for sourcing uranium fuel for nuclear power plants. Canada, incidentally, was the first country to have completed all the formalities for civil nuclear cooperation with India in 2008. Canada sits on vast uranium reserves, and is one of the largest uranium producers in the world.
On this front, Canada, too, has been making overtures in the last few years. Late last year, Brad Wall, Premier of the province of Saskatchewan in Canada, let it be known that he was discussing sale of uranium to India along with proposals for partnering with India in clean coal technologies.
In fact, going by media reports here, Modi’s focus on this three-nation foreign tour will be garnering investments in energy, security, space and military sectors, under his favorite project’s mantle – Make in India.
One report also suggests that problems related to nuclear liability will be discussed by Modi and his French counterpart, President Francois Hollande. French company Areva is involved in the 9,900-megawatt Jaitapur power plant project in India.
In recent times, India has been bullish on acquiring fuel for its reactors, and Modi’s European and Canadian trip will only serve as one more opportunity for that.
India already has Australia on its side. As MetalMiner reported in September, India and Australia concluded a long-pending civil nuclear deal, which involved the supply of uranium from Canberra to India. The Australian supply, expected to have started shipping in the first quarter of 2015, has run into opposition, especially because of India’s stated position that all foreign nuclear material was subject to scrutiny under the guidelines of the International Atomic Energy Agency, thus negating bilateral checks, something the Australians are not giving in to so easily.
The author, Sohrab Darabshaw, contributes an Indian perspective on industrial metals markets to MetalMiner.