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

The Société des mines d'Azelik (Somina), majority owned by Chinese, will resume its uranium mining activities in northern Niger, which it had suspended ten years ago due to lack of profitability, announced , Monday May 13, Nigerien public television

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

The Société des mines d'Azelik (Somina), majority owned by Chinese, will resume its uranium mining activities in northern Niger, which it had suspended ten years ago due to lack of profitability, announced , Monday May 13, Nigerien public television. “The situation being favorable today, Somina plans to resume uranium production,” said Télé Sahel without indicating a date, referring to the rise in world prices observed for several months.

Created in 2007, Somina started uranium extraction in 2011 in Azelik, 200 kilometers 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 (concentrated uranium). 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 price of a pound of uranium has hovered between $90 and $100 since the start of the year, five times higher than in 2016, when it reached its lowest point. This escalation in prices can be explained as much by the rebound in demand for nuclear energy as by international geopolitical tensions.

With a view to this recovery, Colonel Ousmane Abarchi, recently appointed minister of mines by the military regime in power in Niamey, visited the Azelik installations on Saturday, where he spoke with Chinese officials. The minister ensured that “protective measures against the risks of radioactive contamination” are taken, Nigerian television announced.

The fourth largest producer of uranium in the world, Niger remains among the poorest countries on the planet. The military regime that took power in July 2023 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 in Dasa, 105 kilometers south of Arlit, where some 121 billion CFA francs (184.4 million euros) will be invested, according to the ministry Nigerian mines.

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