Areva SA Agrees Deal with Niger to Continue Uranium Mining
Nuclear engineer Areva SA has agreed to pay more taxes to Niger’s government and suspend a heavily-opposed mine development at Imouraren in order to continue extracting uranium from the country for the next five years.
The French group had been planning to open up the mine in the Agadez region in the north of Niger, the world’s fourth-largest uranium producing nation. It is said to hold 109 million tonnes of 0.06 percent uranium, one the country’s largest reserves.
Opponents to Areva’s continuing development plans have claimed that not enough wealth has percolated down to Niger’s citizens since it started operations there in 1971. In a joint statement, Areva and the government of Niger claimed that it would not be profitable to operate the Imouraren mine based on current market prices.
The parties have been locked in talks for two years, failing to reach a deal before the previous 10-year production contract expired last December, requiring its temporary extension.
A joint committee will be established which will monitor uranium prices and decide between them the right time to commence with the operating of Imouraren, which will double Niger’s output. Prices have been continually falling in recent times, down 31 percent over the past year.
Upon signing the agreement, Luc Oursel, President and CEO of AREVA, said: “In the context of a difficult uranium market, AREVA and the State of Niger have succeeded in reaching a balanced and sustainable agreement to pursue their historic partnership.
“I commend this agreement which commits the partners over the long term and affirms the major place held by Niger in the global uranium industry. I am particularly pleased for Niger and for AREVA.”
The Nigerien Minister of State, Omar Hamidou Tchiana, speaking on behalf of the Government of the Republic of Niger, congratulated the negotiating teams for “their commitment over the past few months, working together in a spirit of mutual respect and complete understanding”.
He welcomed the signature of this agreement, which finally marks the establishment of a "balanced partnership" as desired by the President of Niger, Issoufou Mahamadou.
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