50 years in Niger
AREVA has been present in Niger, a country rich in uranium resources, since 1958. Its subsidiary AREVA NC Niger represents the group with local authorities and carries out exploration, new mining projects, communications initiatives and programs to assist the local population.
Immense uranium potential
The western edge of the Aïr massif in Niger is one of the largest expanses of uranium reserves in the world. Uranium is found over an area of 4,500 sq. kilometers, equivalent to half the area of the Ile-de-France region.
Uranium ore is a key resource for Niger. It is the country's top export product (62% of all exports), and represents 7% of its gross domestic product (GDP) and 12% of tax revenues.
A sustainable partnership
AREVA is the primary shareholder in the Nigerien companies SOMAÏR and COMINAK. These companies extract uranium from deposits in the Arlit region in the northeast of the country. They each have an ore processing plant.
Since the first batch of yellowcake was produced in January 1971, the two companies have extracted over 110,000 metric tons of uranium.
Over the last decade, the group has carried out aerial geophysical prospection campaigns and, as a result, obtained permits from the Nigerien government to conduct exploration in the areas around Imouraren, Afouday, Agebout, Tagait (1, 2 and 3) and Zeline (3).
In 2010, the consolidated production of AREVA’s mining subsidiaries reached 3,176 metric tons of uranium, with total uranium production in Niger standing at 4,256 metric tons. AREVA also began preparations to exploit the Imouraren deposit. To do this, the group and its partners have created Imouraren SA, the company that will operate the mine and produce 5,000 metric tons of uranium a year for nearly 35 years. Production is expected to begin in 2014.
A win-win partnership
AREVA buys uranium mined by its Nigerien subsidiaries SOMAÏR and COMINAK. Niger is also a shareholder in these companies and receives dividends from them. Some of this uranium also goes to Nigerien authorities, which sell it on the international market.
The group pays nearly 40 million euros in taxes and makes other contributions in addition to its payroll (nearly 30 million euros a year), purchases in Niger (34.5 million euros in 2009), and investments in the tools of production (several tens of millions of euros a year). Nigeriens hold more than 99% of the jobs. The group has about 50 expatriate managers at the mines, which allows the transfer of knowledge and know-how. Nigerien upper-level managers have been trained at engineering schools in Africa, North America and France as well as at the group’s mining sites.
For several decades, the company’s subsidiaries COMINAK and SOMAÏR have organized important health and development programs (school construction, training for disadvantaged young people, local economic development) in the Arlit region.
Niger: Basic facts
Niger is located at the border between Western Africa, Central Africa and the Sahara. The landlocked country has over 5,700 kilometers of borders with 7 countries (Burkina Faso, Mali, Algeria, Libya, Chad, Nigeria and Benin).
- Total surface area: 1,267,000 square kilometers,
- Capital: Niamey,
- National languages: French (official language), Hausa, Zarma-Songhai, Tamachek, Fulfulde, Kanuri, Toubou, Arabic and Gourmantche,
- 14.7 million inhabitants in 2010,
- GDP per inhabitant in 2009: 510 euros.