MAC: Mines and Communities

China ends uranium prospecting in Niger after rebel threats

Published by MAC on 2007-07-10

China ends uranium prospecting in Niger after rebel threats

10th July 2007

Thomson Financial

NIAMEY- A Chinese company has shut down its uranium prospecting operation in northern Niger, after an ultimatum from the Tuareg rebel movement there, Toureg sources said.

The China Nuclear Engineering and Construction Corporation (CNEC) pulled out after receiving threats from the rebel Movement of Niger People for Justice (MNJ), said the source in Agaez, in the north of the country. 'All the Chinese have left the site and arrived at Ingall (100 km south of Agadez) with their prospecting equipment and a major military escort,' said the source.

The CNEC pull-out comes after Tuaregs of the MNJ abducted a Chinese national last Friday in the Ingall region. An MNJ spokesman said at the time that the action had been intended as a warning to Chinese companies operating with the Niger army.

'No foreigner will be safe so long as the army continues its repression,' said an MNJ statement. It has called for an immediate end to mining in the north of the country. In April, MNJ rebels attacked the biggest uranium project of French nuclear group Areva in Imoumaren, demanding better application of the economic aspects of the 1995 peace agreements that ended a Tuareg rebellion. The MNJ says peace will not return to the north of Niger without better integration of Tuaregs into the army, paramilitary corps and the local mining sector. Since February it has carried out attacks on military targets in the area.

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