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Thousands protest against Areva in Niger mining town

Published by MAC on 2013-10-20
Source: Mining.com, Reuters (2013-10-12)

Thousands protest against Areva in Niger mining town

By Abdoulaye Massalaki

Reuters

12 October 2013

NIAMEY - Thousands of residents of the remote mining town of Arlit in Niger took to the streets on Saturday to protest against French uranium miner Areva and support a government audit of the company's operations in the desert nation.

Niger announced the audit last month to determine cost reductions in a new long-term contract and wants to dramatically increase the state's revenues from the Cominak and Somair mines, in which Niger holds a stake of over 30 percent.

Ten-year contracts for mines in northern Niger expire at the end of the year. The two mines produce some 4,500 tonnes of uranium per year and account for roughly a third of the state-controlled French company's total.

Around 5,000 demonstrators marched through Arlit chanting slogans against the French mining company before holding a rally in the city centre, participants and protest leaders said.

"We're showing Areva that we are fed up and we're demonstrating our support for the government in the contract renewal negotiations," Azaoua Mamane, an Arlit civil society spokesman, said in an interview with a private radio station.

Areva, which has been mining Niger uranium for four decades, has a 63.6 percent stake in Somair and 34 percent in Cominak. But Arlit residents complain they have benefited little from the local mining industry.

"We don't have enough drinking water while the company pumps 20 million cubic meters of water each year for free. The government must negotiate a win-win partnership," Mamane said.

Areva spokesmen in Niger and Paris declined to comment.

Extractive industries watchdogs, including the local branch of Publish What You Pay, have accused Areva of a lack of transparency in how it reports revenues and costs in Niger.

France's ambassador told Reuters last week the audit had been decided by common agreement between Niger and Areva, which he said would serve as a base for the renegotiation of financial conditions and tax rates under the new contracts.

It is due to be completed by the end of October, he said.

France relies for roughly three quarters of its electricity on nuclear reactors, which Areva builds and supplies with fuel. International uranium prices, however, have slumped after the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan, squeezing Areva's earnings.

The company, 87-percent owned by the French state, made a loss of 99 million euros last year, but expects to make an operating profit of more than 1.1 billion euros this year, helped in part by its uranium mining business.

Niger is calling upon the company to make infrastructure investments, including resurfacing the road between the town of Tahoua and Arlit, more than 1,000 km north of the capital Niamey - known as the "uranium road". (Additional reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide in Paris; Writing by Joe Bavier; Editing by Alison Williams)


5000 march against French uranium miner in Niger

Frik Els

Mining.com

12 October 2013

Thousand of protestors marched against French uranium miner Areva in the remote town of Arlit in Niger on Saturday.

Areva has been operating in Niger for more than 50 years with two sites, Somair and Cominak, currently producing, and its long-term deal with the government of Niger is up for renegotiation at the end of 2013.

The roughly 5000 protesters in Arlit were out in support of a Niger government audit to determine how to better distribute revenues from the two mines Reuters reports:

"We're showing Areva that we are fed up and we're demonstrating our support for the government in the contract renewal negotiations," Azaoua Mamane, an Arlit civil society spokesman, said in an interview with a private radio station.

"We don't have enough drinking water while the company pumps 20 million cubic meters of water each year for free. The government must negotiate a win-win partnership," Mamane said.

The two mines together produce 4500 tonnes of uranium for export to France and another project at Imouraren, which will be the largest uranium mine in Africa, is set to start operations in 2015.

The Somair mine was back to full production in August, after a suicide attack in May killed one worker and injured 14 partially shutting down mining.

Prices for uranium are languishing at 8-year lows of $34 a pound and have not recovered since the Fukushima disaster in Japan in 2011 despite more than 70 reactors being built around the world, 29 of them in China.


Niger students protest French group's uranium revenues

Global Post

13 April 2013

Some 2,000 students held a protest in Niger's capital Niamey on Friday against French nuclear group Areva to demand their country get a bigger slice of its uranium mining revenues.

Marchers held aloft placards saying "No to exploitation and neo-colonialism" and "No to Areva".

"The partnership in the mining of uranium is very unbalanced to the detriment of our country," said Mahamadou Djibo Samaila, secretary general of the Union of Niamey University Students that organised the protest.

He said uranium mining revenues accounted for only five percent of the government's budget.

"Niger has to shoulder its responsibilities and rewrite its mining contracts and impose itself," he said.

The government of Niger, one of Africa's poorest countries, complained late last year that its four-decade-old deal with Areva to mine its vast uranium deposits was unfair and should be changed.

The French group, one of the top uranium producers in the world, last month offered 35 million euros ($45 million) to Niger to help secure its mining sites in the northern desert Agadez region, close to the border with Mali, where France launched a military operation against Islamist militant groups.

France has also sent special forces to protect Areva's facilities in Niger following the January hostage-taking and killing of dozens of foreigners at a gas plant in Algeria.

 

 

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