AREVA Operations in Niger

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Background

Founded in 2006, AREVA NC Niger was set up as a wholly owned subsidiary of AREVA to engage in exploration of Niger's uranium reserves, to lead mining projects, and to manage AREVA's relations with the Nigerien authorities and local communities.[1] AREVA's presence in Niger pre-dates the formation of AREVA NC Niger; they had been present in the country for more than 40 years as of 2011.[1] From its headquarters in Niamey, AREVA NC Niger hold majority stakes in two local Nigerien mining companies, COMINAK and SOMAIR, and is developing a third uranium asset in Imouraren.[2] In 2008 AREVA reported that it was the largest private employer in the mining region of Agadez, with 1,800 employees.[3]

Since it began mining in northern Niger, AREVA has fully funded two mining hospitals that provide health care to the entire community: employees, dependents and local communities.[3] The health care is provided for free, and over half the medical procedures are carried out on Nigeriens with no connection to AREVA.[4]

Uranium Production

Uranium Development

Mining of the Imouraren deposit is due to begin in 2014.[6] With an estimated 180,000 metric tons of uranium, Imouraren will be the biggest open-pit uranium mine in West Africa and the second-largest uranium mine in the world.[2] In 2009 AREVA announced that the uranium output from their Imouraren property would rise to 5,000 tonnes of uranium per year for a period of at least 35 years.[7]

Controversy

In May 2010 Greenpeace published an investigation[8] - in collaboration with the French independent laboratory CRIIRAD (Commission de Recherche et d'Information Indépendantes sur la Radioactivité) and the Nigerien NGO network ROTAB (Réseau des Organisations pour la Transparence et l’Analyse Budgetaire) that accused AREVA of exposing the population to solid radioactive matter (such as mud and earth), contaminating soil and water with radiation, and increasing the level of respiratory ailments.[8]

AREVA provided an official response to the allegations made by Greenpeace, arguing that they had a "commitment to responsible development". They argued that Greenpeace’s report relied "on the public’s fears and disinformation, which does not bring anything constructive to the process".[9] In a press release, AREVA said that many of the report's conclusions are un-founded, and confirmed that AREVA’s mining activities in Niger are carried out in strict compliance with international health, safety and environmental standards.[10] Greenpeace have called for an independent study of radiation levels[11] AREVA maintain that many studies have already been conducted by groups including the French Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection Institute, and all visits have attested the quality of the environment, health and radiation protection systems.[10]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 "AREVA NC NIGER: NEW MINING PROJECTS" AREVA, retrieved 10 April 2012.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "AREVA's Facilities in Niger" AREVA NC Niger, retrieved 10 April 2012.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "AREVA in Niger: A multi-stakeholder partnership to tackle HIV/AIDS - Case study for EHRBP II" United Nations Global Compact, retrieved 13 April 2012.
  4. "Providing Health Care to the Population through the Mining Hospitals" AREVA, retrieved 13 April 2012.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Uranium in Niger" World Nuclear Association, retrieved 28 March 2012.
  6. "Niger says Imouraren uranium mine on track for 2014" Reuters, retrieved 28 March 2012.
  7. "A top-ranked deposit for long term mining" AREVA, retrieved 29 March 2012.
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Left in the Dust" Greenpeace, retrieved 24 April 2012.
  9. "AREVA and Niger: a Sustainable Partnership" AREVA, retrieved 24 April 2012.
  10. 10.0 10.1 "AREVA Deplores Lack of Transparency on Part of Greenpeace" AREVA, retrieved 24 April 2012.
  11. "Left in the Dust - Areva's uranium mining in Niger" Greenpeace International, retrieved 24 April 2012.