With Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani announcing his leadership of Niger and the country’s constitution dissolved in this week’s coup, there’s growing concern over Nigerien uranium mines operated by the national firm Sopamin, and the mines operated or funded by companies in France, China, South Korea and beyond.
Canada’s Global Atomic, for example, holds a 90% stake in the Dasa Project and broke ground last year on uranium mines located south of Arlit. The Toronto-based firm has invested more than USD $50 million in Niger’s uranium since 2007 and is set to provide uranium to “a major North American utility” by 2025.
GoviEx Uranium, headquartered in British Columbia, claims one of the largest uranium resource sites in the world at its Madaouela location, near some of the mine holdings of France’s Orano in the Agadez region. Orano just signed a new global partnership agreement with Niger in May that covers its Imouraren, Cominak and Somaïr operations.
Korea Electric Power, as well as the Nigerien government and Sopamin, are partners on the joint venture at Imouraren, according to the World Nuclear Association. Spain’s ENUSA holds a minority interest in Cominak.
“The group has set up a crisis unit to prioritize the safety of its employees,” said Orano in a statement to stakeholders. “At the reporting date of the financial statements, Orano does not consider this event to have any immediate impact on its activities in Niger or on the value of its assets.”
Ousted President Mohamed Bazoum met just last month with the head of China’s uranium mining company to discuss a relaunch of operations at the Somina mine. China’s ZTE Energy also has interests at Abokorum, while Australian and Indian companies have held exploration licenses.
Niger accounts for about 5% of world uranium output and has been mining since 1971.