Niger: a Chinese company will resume uranium mining after ten years of interruption

Niger: a Chinese company will resume uranium mining after ten years of interruption
Niger: a Chinese company will resume uranium mining after ten years of interruption

“The situation being favorable today, SOMINA plans to resume uranium production,” said Nigerien public television Télé Sahel, without indicating a date, referring to the rise in world prices observed for several months.

Created in 2007, SOMINA began extracting uranium in 2011 in Azelik, 200 km southwest of the mining town of Arlit, where the French company Orano (formerly Areva) has been operating for around fifty years. ‘years. But it suspended its activities three years later because of the fall in world prices for “yellow cake”.

The price of a pound of uranium has hovered between $90 and $100 since the start of the year, five times more than in 2016, when it reached its lowest point. An escalation in prices which can be explained both by the rebound in demand for nuclear energy and by international geopolitical tensions.

With a view to this recovery, Colonel Ousmane Abarchi, the Nigerien Minister of Mines, recently appointed by the military regime in power in Niamey, visited the Azelik installations on Saturday where he spoke with Chinese officials.

The minister visited the mine and ensured that “protective measures against the risks of radioactive contamination” were taken, Nigerien television said.

Read also: Niger: China to pay an “advance” of $400 million on crude oil sales

In June 2023, the Nigerien government and the China National Uranium Company (CNUC) signed a memorandum of understanding for the resumption of SOMINA activities.

The fourth largest producer of uranium in the world, Niger remains among the poorest countries on the planet.

The military regime which took power in July 2023 in Niamey has made sovereignty, particularly in the exploitation of raw materials, one of its priorities.

The Canadian company Global Atomic Corporation launched uranium mining in 2022 at Dasa, located 105 km south of Arlit, for which some 121 billion FCFA (184.4 million euros) will be invested, according to the Nigerien Ministry of Mines.

At the beginning of May, gold mines, operated by a Chinese company in the same region of Agadez, were temporarily closed after the death of several dozen animals having drunk water released from mining wells, according to the authorities. and residents.

By Le360 Africa (with AFP)

05/14/2024 at 6:49 a.m.

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