Reclaiming former mining sites

Fouilloux reimproved open pit gold mine. Bourneix site mine (SMB). Limousin. France

At the end of their lifecycle, mining sites are dismantled, reclaimed and replanted. These operations are carried out in strict compliance with current environmental standards and in cooperation with local communities. AREVA keeps these sites under radiological and environmental monitoring for at least 10 years to observe and control their development.

A new life for former sites

At the end of their operation, mining sites are dismantled and reclaimed for integration in the surrounding environment. Former mining sites become woodlands, industrial sites, agricultural land, bodies of water, or business parks.

Mine redevelopment is an industrial operation in its own right and is based on solid scientific and technical foundations.

To build consensus and adhere to regulations, site rehabilitation seeks to:

  • ensure public health and safety,
  • minimize the residual impacts of former operations,
  • limit the use of space by former sites,
  • ensure their integration into the landscape.

Over the years, AREVA has committed over 400 million euros to disassembling mining facilities.

The group has reclaimed 13 sites in France, Gabon, the United States and Canada.

Clean-up and dismantling

Ore processing facilities and other industrial buildings are subject to chemical and radiological decontamination. They are usually dismantled, unless some other satisfactory usage can be found in accordance with environmental and health regulations.

Ore processing waste is stored. This storage is carried out in specially fitted pits or old open-pit mines. Waste is covered by a layer of material suitable for replanting.

The areas of the site where processing waste is stored (mining waste) remain the property of AREVA, which carries out all environmental monitoring and checks.

Studies of the long-term management of tailings have been in progress since the closure of mines in France and Gabon in the early 1990s.

In 2005, studies focused on the evolution of tailing characteristics and cover test plots were launched in Niger. These operations have been completed by performance studies that will contribute to decommissioning projects.

Anticipating site rehabilitation studies

Rehabilitation studies for the Somaïr and Cominak sites began in 2002. These studies make use of AREVA's international experience in the field.

Given the geographical profile of these mining sites, the operations will pay particular attention to radiological monitoring, drinking water protection and the processing of mine tailings.

AREVA contacts in Niger
Mining facilities in Niger

Niger's uranium potential is currently being developed by 2 Nigerien companies: SOMAÏR AND COMINAK. AREVA is the majority shareholder of both companies.

Corporate responsibility
Environmental monitoring: freshwater sampling. Village near Cominak. Akouta. Niger. Africa

During 40 years of operations in Niger, AREVA has created a sustainable partnership with the country in the areas of industry, environmental protection, health and social welfare.