Strict water management
Water, which is indispensable to life, is also essential in mining operations. AREVA optimizes its water consumption in Niger by using water more efficiently and by employing special systems. At its sites and in the surrounding areas, samples are taken to analyze water quality. The sites are also inspected by an independent auditor, who certifies that the environmental management system meets all standards. The management of natural resources like the aquifers is a major concern of the group.
MONITORING WATER QUALITY
Water in Arlit and Akokan is subject to chemical, bacteriological, and radiological testing every six months as part of the AMAN project. There is thus a regular check for the presence of uranium or nitrates.
When compared to the limits recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), the results of these tests show that Nigerien and international quality standards for drinking water are respected.
The concentration of uranium in drinking water wells has not increased in the last 20 years. The local population is not exposed to any health risks due to the drinking water in Arlit and Akokan
REDUCING WATER CONSUMPTION
One objective of AREVA’s environmental policy is to reduce water consumption and ensure the supply of drinking and industrial water required by the local population and regional operations over the short, medium and long term.
There are several fossil aquifers at the Arlit and Akokan mining sites. The Tarat aquifer is the only one used for drinking water in the mining operations.
- Annual consumption has been reduced by 35% over the last 15 years.
- Current consumption is around 8 million cubic meters per year.
- 68% of this volume is used to supply the urban areas of Arlit and Akokan.
A number of innovative solutions have been implemented to optimize water management. At SOMAÏR, for example, the ore is processed using heap leaching. This method requires less water than traditional techniques employed in the mining industry. It consists in selectively extracting uranium by allowing an acidic solution to seep through ore that has been heaped on an impermeable leaching pad.
Other measures such as improvements in plant processes and the use of water from dewatering contribute to the conservation of natural resources.
Promoting an eco-attitude is also one of the improvement strategies for water conservation. Public awareness campaigns aimed at employees and their families have been conducted to change people’s daily consumption habits.
The AMAN project
The goal of the AMAN project (which means “water” in Tamasheq, the Touareg language) is to improve the knowledge of the water-bearing soils around Arlit and Akokan.
Three main actions have been implemented to ensure the success of the project:
- Hydrogeological studies to establish the state of the water table
- Complementary resource identification on all mineral permits held by AREVA in the area
- Data centralization
These studies will help optimize management of the production network according to identified water needs (ensuring sufficient water pressure levels for production sites, implementing future sites according to water-bearing soil productivity, guaranteeing water quality, etc.).