Principal Mines in Niger

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Uranium

Niger produced 4,000 tonnes of uranium in 2011.[1] The World Nuclear Association estimated that this makes Niger the world's third to fifth-ranking producer.[2] Niger's principal uranium mines target the reserves of the Tim Mersoi Basin in north-west Niger.[3]

Arlit

Coordinates: 18°44′0″N 7°23′0″E [4]

Production at the Arlit uranium deposit began in 1971 when the Société des Mines de l'Air (SOMAIR) cut an open pit to 60 metres depth. The ore is of a relatively low grade, typically of a 0.30 - 0.35%. Since 2003, production has been steadily increasing and in 2009 overall production was 1808 tonnes of uranium. As of 2012, SOMAIR had produced more than 44,000 tonnes since the mine came into operation. The World Nuclear Association reported that SOMAIR were to increase the mine’s capacity to 3000 tonnes of uranium per year, and that they had started to develop a new deposit, Artois, which is deeper (90 metres) and contains a lower grade of uranium (0.20 - 0.25%).[2]

Akouta

Coordinates: 18°68′0″N 7°30′2″E [5]

The Akouta mine is operated by Compagnie Miniere d'Akouta (COMINAK). This is an underground operation at a depth of about 250 metres. Akouta has the capacity to produce 2000 tonnes per year and COMINAK has produced more than 55,000 tonnes of uranium since extraction began in 1974.[2]

Azelik

Coordinates: 17°31′6″N 6°46′59″E [6]

The Azelik mine is situated in the Agadez region, and is operated by a consortium lead by China Nuclear International Uranium Corporation (SinoU) called SOMINA - Société des Mines d'Azelik S.A.[7] The mine came into production on 30 December 2010 representing the first overseas exploitation project conducted by China Nuclear International Uranium Corporation (SinoU).[8] Chen Yuehui, deputy general manager of China National Nuclear Corporation’s overseas exploration unit, forecasted in June 2008 that production would initially expand to an annual output to 700 tonnes by 2011 and eventually rising to 1,000 tonnes.[9].

Imouraren

Coordinates: 18°8′3″N 7°21′51″E [10]

Development of the large Imouraren deposit was confirmed in January 2009, after a mining agreement binding AREVA and the Nigerien Government was ratified.[11] Initially in AREVA announced that it had been awarded a mining licence and that it would hold 66.65% of the project, with the Niger government's SOPAMIN holding the remaining share in a joint venture.[2] In December 2009, ownership stakes changed with Korea Electric Power Company (Kepco) taking a 10% stake in the mine from AREVA.[12] A further change occurred in February 2012 when the EDF Group made a purchase agreement with AREVA for a share in the Imouraren project.[13]. In February 2012 the World Nuclear Association reported that EDF was to take a 12.7% stake in the mine, in exchange for an agreement to purchase 20,000 tonnes of uranium over the next 15 years.[2]

In February 2012 Niger's mining minister Omar Hamidou Tchiana revealed that the new uranium mine will likely start production in 2014 after delays caused by kidnappings of foreign workers in the country's north.[1] Upon being awarded a mining permit in 2009 AREVA hoped that the uranium output from Imouraren would rise to 5,000 tonnes per year for over 35 years, making Niger the world's second-largest exporter of the nuclear fuel.[11] The deposit at Imouraren covers an area of 20 square kilometres and contains 146,000 tonnes of measured and indicated uranium resources. [1]

Gold

Samira Hill Mine

Coordinates: 13°24′42″N, 1°13′42″E [14]

The Samira Hill Mine represents the only industrial exploitation of gold reserves in Niger.[15] The mine is situated in western Niger on the 50 kilometer gold belt commonly referred to as the Samira Horizon, around 90km west of the capital Niamey.[16] As of December 2010, measured mineral resources were estimated to be 8 million tonnes of ore at an average grade of 1.54 grams per tonne (g/t) gold, and indicated mineral resources were estimated to be 20.9 million tonnes of ore at an average grade of 1.49 g/t gold.[15] In 2011, gold production from the Samira Hill Mine was reduced to 1,320 kilograms, compared to 1,596 kilograms in 2010 and 1,770 kilograms in 2009 - SEMAFO claim that this was due to the processing of a lower grade ore.[15]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Niger says Imouraren uranium mine on track for 2014" Reuters, retrieved 28 March 2012.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 "Uranium in Niger" World Nuclear Association, retrieved 28 March 2012.
  3. "Niger: General Description of Agelal and Asekra Projects" Homeland Uranium Inc., retrieved 29 March 2012.
  4. "GeoHack - Arlit" GeoHack, retrieved 12 April 2012.
  5. "Akouta Uranium Mine: Location" Global Energy Observatory, retrieved 12 April 2012.
  6. "GeoHack - Takedda" GeoHack, retrieved 12 April 2012.
  7. "First uranium from Niger mine" World Nuclear News, retrieved 10 April 2012.
  8. "CNNC’s Overseas Uranium Mine Produced Its First Barrel of Product" China National Nuclear Corporation, retrieved 29 March 2012.
  9. "China National Nuclear Starts Trial Operations at Uranium Mine in Niger" Bloomberg, retrieved 29 March 2012.
  10. "GeoHack - Imourarene" GeoHack, retrieved 12 April 2012.
  11. 11.0 11.1 "A top-ranked deposit for long term mining" AREVA, retrieved 29 March 2012.
  12. 2Areva and Kepco sign Imouraren agreement" World Nuclear News, retrieved 12 April 2012.
  13. "Areva says to remain sole owner of uranium mining division" Reuters Africa, retrieved 29 March 2012.
  14. "GeoHack - Samira Gold Hill Mine" GeoHack, retrieved 12 April 2012.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 "Minerals in Mali and Niger - Advance Release" US Geological Survey, retrieved 29 March 2012.
  16. "Operations in Niger" SEMAFO, retrieved 28 March 2012.