Today Niger is the fifth-largest producer of uranium in the world with a production of 3859 tons in 2014. Uranium mining in Niger – the country belongs to the poorest in the world – has not made anyone rich, but it brought manifold problems: from toxic tailings to polluted drinking water until horrible working conditions for the miners.
Uranium is mined close to the twin mining towns of Arlit and Akokan, 900 km north-east of the capital Niamey (more than 1,200 km by road) on the southern border of the Sahara desert and on the western range of the Air mountains. The concentrates are trucked 1600 km to Parakou in Benin, then railed 400 km to Cotonou port and exported for conversion, mostly to Comurhex in France.
Cominak (Arlit) Name: Cominak (Compagnie Minière d’Akouta) uranium mine Type: open pit uranium mine Operator: Areva-Cogema (34%) and the state of Niger,
OURD (Japan), ENUSA (Spain) Start of operation: 1978 Output: 1700 t Uranium/year
Somair (Arlit) Name: Somair (Société des Mines de l’AIR) Uranium Mine Type: open pit uranium mine Operator: Areva-Cogema (63%) and the state of Niger Start of operation: 1971 Output: 2000 t Uranium/year
Total Output:over 100,000 t Uranium, on average, Somair and Cominak produce over 3,000 tonnes Tailings:over 52 million tonnes of ore Projected closing down:In October 2014, Niger’s Cabinet approved a new uranium production deal with Areva after protracted and contentious negotiations. Under the deal, Areva agreed to fewer tax breaks and higher royalty rates. The company also agreed to pay to rebuild the road to its mines in Arlit, fund a local development project, and build a new headquarters in the capital Niamey.
Comments:Arlit is a mining town in northern-central Niger. Akokan is a mining town in the Arlit Department. The Tuareg and Toubou people are local to the area. The cities of Arlit and Akokan (total inhabitants 70.000 people), have been created from nothing – on the face of a plain desert – to inhabit the mines workers. The drinking water is extracted from the ground by the mining companies. That is the same ground being polluted by the mines tailings. (uranium network)
In one of the poorest countries in the world, ranking last in the Human Development Index of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), where more than 40% of children are underweight for their age, water and access to improved water sources is scarce and almost three quarters of the population are illiterate, the French nuclear giant AREVA extracts precious—and deadly—natural resources, earning billions for its Fortune 5002 corporation, and leaving little behind but centuries of environmental pollution and health risks for the citizens of Niger. (Greenpeace)
Azelik Name: Azelik uranium mine Type: open pit uranium mine and underground operation using alkaline leach Operator: Société des Mines d’Azelik S.A., Shareholder: China Nuclear International Uranium Corporation (Sino-Uranium, 37.2%), SOPAMIN – Société de Patrimoine des Mines du Niger (Government of Niger, 33%), ZXJOY Invest (24.8%), Korea Resources Corporation (5%) Start of operation:2009
Total Output:2011: 64 t Uranium, 2012: 96 t, 2013: 290 t, 2014: 225 t. According to the company, there are about 15,600 tons of Uranium in this deposit.