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Niger Revokes French Company’s Licence at Major Uranium Mine

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Niger has revoked the operating licence of French nuclear fuel producer Orano at one of the world’s largest uranium mines.

The decision comes despite Orano’s recent resumption of activities at the Imouraren mine in northern Niger, which boasts an estimated 200,000 tonnes of uranium vital for nuclear energy production.

Orano, which has operated in Niger for over five decades, received a letter from the Nigerien mining ministry stating that its exploitation plan “did not meet our expectations.” Consequently, the mine has been “returned to the public domain,” and Orano’s contractual rights have been revoked.

The company has expressed its willingness to maintain communication channels with the military authorities but reserves the right to pursue legal action in national or international courts.

This development highlights the deteriorating relations between Niger’s military junta, which seized power in a coup last July, and France.

The junta has pledged to reduce ties with the West, reviewing mining concessions and ordering the withdrawal of Western troops, including French forces deployed to combat Islamist militants in the region. Instead, Niger has been strengthening its links with Russia.

The Imouraren mine, whose development was halted in 2015 due to plummeting uranium prices following the Japanese nuclear disaster, was expected to resume operations this year.

However, Niger had warned Orano that its licence would lapse on June 19 unless work restarted at the site. Despite Orano’s recent efforts to revive the project, the Nigerien government has opted to revoke the licence, citing unmet expectations.


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