Published on 12 May 2015

Why Areva is pulling back

Why Areva is pulling back

Slowly but surely, the French nuclear giant is running down its operations in Niger. The difficult completion of the renegotiation of the Cominak and Somaïr mining agreements has not at all eased tensions. The group is now being subjected to taxation levels which are increasing its operating costs considerably, with the result that it has reduced employee bonuses and damaged industrial relations. In early April, a first strike took place on a production site. The situation has been aggravated by a long-term fall in uranium prices, which has persuaded Areva to postpone the Imouraren project, its biggest in the country, until after 2017 and perhaps even to cancel it altogether. As a result, the group has called off its contracts with local service providers, generating some unfavourable reaction in the process. Some providers have formed an association to take legal action against it. These developments are also causing problems for President Mahamadou Issoufou, who had intended to make use of the Imouraren project, with its planned production capacity of 5,000 tonnes of ore per year, as a campaign argument for the 2016 presidential elections.

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