Released on December 17, 2009
The provincial government today outlined its strategic direction for uranium development in Saskatchewan. Under that direction uranium exploration and mining will be enhanced, value-added nuclear research, education and training will be encouraged, but a specific proposal for a large-scale nuclear power plant will not proceed at this time.
Energy and Resources Minister Bill Boyd said that the government has accepted most of the recommendations of the Uranium Development Partnership (UDP) report. It has also accepted the general recommendation from The Future of Uranium in Saskatchewan public consultation process that additional information and consultation are required, particularly as they relate to any future decision to pursue nuclear power in Saskatchewan.
"Through the UDP's extensive research and Dan Perrins' follow-up consultations, we have received the most comprehensive overview of the uranium industry in our province's history," Boyd said. "We reaffirm our belief in, and our need for, a strong future for the industry that goes beyond exploration and extraction."
The government's strategic direction on uranium includes:
- Continuing to facilitate the uranium exploration and mining that has taken place in Saskatchewan for over 50 years;
- Encouraging investment in nuclear research, development and training opportunities, specifically in the areas of mining, neutron science, isotopes, small scale reactor design and enrichment;
- Reserving decisions on supporting Saskatchewan communities interested in hosting nuclear waste management facilities to when such proposals are advanced in a regulatory process; and
- Directing SaskPower to continue including nuclear power in the range of energy options available for additional baseload generation capacity in the medium and long term after 2020.
Boyd noted SaskPower's proposed options will be outlined in the strategy it is preparing as part of a fall Throne Speech commitment and will take into consideration the final report from the Standing Committee on Crown and Central Agencies on Saskatchewan's future power needs.
As a result, Boyd said the government will not support the UDP recommendation to accelerate plans for nuclear power, nor Bruce Power's November 2008 proposal for a large scale nuclear power plant in Saskatchewan at this time.
Boyd acknowledged Bruce Power's foresight, commitment and confidence in the Saskatchewan economy and encouraged the company to consider working with industry and government on opportunities that may arise from research into innovative reactor designs for implementation after 2020 and in concert with SaskPower's electrical strategy.
"We carefully evaluated the company's initial plans, however uncertainty around long-term costs to consumers remains a lingering concern," Boyd said. "Further, the large scale of the proposed nuclear power investment requires a regional approach involving, ideally, all three prairie-provinces for successful implementation."
The minister said that research is a key component of more value-added activity in the uranium industry and reaffirmed the government's support for the Canadian Neutron Source proposal submitted in partnership with the University of Saskatchewan to the federal government. The proposal calls for a nuclear research centre of excellence to explore cutting-edge medical science, enhance research and development and produce much-needed medical isotopes.
The UDP report noted that sustaining Saskatchewan's leadership position in exploration and mining alone would have a significant impact on the province's economy contributing a total estimated GDP impact of $4.2 billion over 15 years.
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Energy and Resources