Uranium Mine in Niger sets to Operate until 2040.

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  • The deal also includes Orano’s commitment to invest 26 billion CFA ($44 million) in the education and priority sectors in Niger.

French nuclear company, Orano, and the Nigerien government have signed a deal to prolong the operational life of the country’s sole uranium mine. Niger is a domain to one of the earth’s biggest sources of uranium, the main source of nuclear fuel, although it is one of the world’s less developed countries. 

 

Niger’s Minister for Mining, Hadiza Ousseini explained that the national mining company of Niger, Somair Mine, could continue operations until 2040, which is the “overall partnership agreement”, noting that 11 years and beyond is currently the expected closure. She said discussions are focused particularly on licensing arrangements and cost reduction.

According to the CEO of Orano, Nicolas Maes, the deal concerning Somair Mine includes a commitment by the company to invest 26 billion CFA francs ($44 million) into education and other “priority” sectors in Niger.

The two parties did agree to postpone the commencement of mining at the northern Imouraren site, which contains among the largest uranium resources in the world and estimated deposits of 200,000 tonnes.

 

In mid-March 2023, both parties began exploring a uranium site in Imouraren in the northern Arlit region in Niger. In 2015, the Imouraren project was halted after the price of uranium dropped following the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan.

According to Ousseini, the partners estimated “a horizon of 10 years” when deciding whether or not to begin mining at the location.

Nuclear giant, Orano is the second-largest uranium producer in the world and the restructured successor to the state-owned Areva. This nuclear conglomerate began uranium mining in the former French colony about 50 years ago. Orano is headquartered in Châtillon, Hauts-de-Seine, France, with the majority of its owners in the French state.

 

Somair and Cominak are the two mining companies in Niger, although Cominak for the Akokan Mining Company folded up in 2021. Both mining companies are subsidiaries of Orano nuclear firm.

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