MAC: Mines and Communities

Niger: Areva Mine Attacked, 13 Employees Wounded

Published by MAC on 2013-05-28
Source: Wall Street Journal (2013-05-23)

For previous article on MAC see: Niger wants to renegotiate Areva partnership terms

Areva Niger Mine Attacked, 13 Employees Wounded

By Geraldine Amiel

Wall Street Journal

23 May 2013

PARIS - French nuclear engineering and uranium mining group Areva SA (AREVA.FR) confirmed its Somair mine in Niger was attacked by terrorists early Thursday, wounding 13 of its employees.

The attack against the mining compound, near Arlit, was part of a twin car bombing that also targeted a military base in Agadez, in Northern Niger.

The group, which has been a recurring target for Islamist activists there over the past three years, said Niger forces would now handle the security of its operations but didn't call into question its presence in Niger where it has been mining uranium for the past 40 years.

As the prospects of nuclear energy remain bright, in spite of the Fukushima catastrophe in Japan two years earlier, demand for uranium ore has kept increasing, making Areva's Niger operations all the more crucial to its mining business.

Last year, Niger accounted for about one-third of the group's uranium resources with Somair mine reporting 3,065 tons of Uranium, 339 tons more than in 2011.

France launched a massive military intervention in neighboring Mali against Islamist terrorists there earlier this year. At the time, Areva's chairman and chief executive, Luc Oursel, said that business would go on at its Niger mining operations after a number of measures to reinforce security had been set up, alongside Niger forces.

French citizens working for French companies in uranium mining were kidnapped in September 2010, and one employee from Areva and three workers for French construction group Vinci (DG.FR) are still being held hostage by al Qaeda-affiliated militants in the Sahel region.

In February, the U.S. announced the setting up of a drone base in Niger, as part of the current international effort to search and fight Al-Qaeda and other Islamist guerilla fighters in North and West Africa.

-Write to Geraldine Amiel at geraldine.amiel@dowjones.com

 

 

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