Paladin and Rio attempt to block BHP deal

Rio Tinto and Paladin Energy have attempted to scuttle BHP Billiton’s $430 million sale of the Yeelirrie uranium deposit to Canadian giant Cameco.

Both Rio and Paladin have made submissions to the Foreign Investment Review Board expressing concerns about the sale, The West Australian reports.

While the companies have made no public comment about their submissions there’s speculation the miners, who own their own uranium deposits, did not want Yeelirrie developed because of the already weak fundamentals in the uranium sector.

Paladin and Rio also used their submissions to highlight that while Canada stipulates uranium mines must be operated by groups 51 per cent Canadian owned, no such rules apply in Australia.

According to The West Australian the FIRB has reportedly recommended that Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan approval the sale.

Rio sold a Pilbara uranium deposit to Cameco three years ago, and if the company buys up the Yeelirrie deposit it will control around 80 per cent of WA’s uranium reserves.

BHP made the decision to sell Yeelirrie earlier this year, and the move came less than a week after the miner shelved its massive expansion plans for the Olympic Dam mine in South Australia.

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