The recently announced agreement-in-principle between Canada and
the 28-member European Union on free trade - officially known as
the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement
("CETA") - includes important changes
for Canada's mining industry. If implemented, CETA would: (i)
eliminate foreign ownership restrictions on uranium mining for
European investors, (ii) gradually lift tariffs on base metals, and
(iii) loosen restrictions on labour mobility. The Canadian
government stated that CETA could be implemented as early as 2015.
The terms of CETA have not been made public and the technical
details have yet to be finalized. It is subject to ratification by
the European Parliament, each of the EU's member states and the
Elimination of Ownership Restrictions
Canada's non-residential ownership policy
("NROP"), adopted in 1970, limits
non-resident ownership of domestic uranium mines to 49%. There are
no ownership restrictions on uranium exploration, but NROP requires
non-residents to find a Canadian majority partner to operate a
uranium mine. Under CETA, this ownership restriction would be
removed for European investors.
The government of Saskatchewan, the only province with producing
uranium mines, lobbied for the elimination of the NROP. The policy
has also been challenged by interested stakeholders, including
Canada's Competition Policy Review Panel. It received renewed
attention last year when Rio Tinto, through its take-over of Hathor
Exploration Limited, acquired Hathor's mining properties in
Saskatchewan's Athabasca Basin. Under the present rules, if
those properties went into production, Rio Tinto could not own more
Relief From Tariffs and Labour Mobility Restrictions
CETA contemplates the gradual elimination of tariffs on metal
and mineral products, such as aluminum, nickel, iron, steel and
other metals, and increased labour mobility between Canada and
Europe, facilitating short-term cross-Atlantic work
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Canada is a constitutional monarchy, a parliamentary democracy and a federation comprised of ten provinces and three territories. Canada's judiciary is independent of the legislative and executive branches of Government.
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