(Reuters) – Niger military officers said on Friday they had suspended the constitution and dissolved all institutions after overthrowing President Mohamed Bazoum. Niger is the world’s seventh-biggest producer of uranium, according to the World Nuclear Association (WNA).
The radioactive metal is the most widely used fuel for nuclear energy. It is also used in treating cancer, for naval propulsion, and in nuclear weapons.
Below are details of Niger’s uranium deposits and mines:
Niger, which has Africa’s highest-grade uranium ores, produced 2,020 metric tons of uranium in 2022, about 5% of world mining output, according to the WNA. This was down from 2,991 tons in 2020.
The world’s three biggest producers are Kazakhstan, Canada and Namibia.
Niger has one major mining operation in the north operated by France’s state-owned Orano, another major mine that closed in 2021, with one under development.
Orano said on Friday it was continuing mining despite ongoing “security events”. French nuclear power plants source less than 10% of their uranium from Niger, Orano added.
ARLIT MINING SITES
Several open pit mining sites are located near the city of Arlit, in the northwest, and operated by Somair, a joint venture of Orano and Niger’s state-owned Sopamin.
This underground mine near Akokan, southwest oif Arlit, produced 75,000 metric tons of uranium from 1978 until March 2021, when it closed after its ore reserves had been depleted.
The mine was owned by Cominak, 59% owned by Orano, 31% by Sopamin and 10% by Spain’s state-owned Enusa.
This deposit about 50 miles south of Arlit contains one of the largest reserves in the world, according to Orano.
An operating mine permit was awarded in 2009, but work to bring the mine into operation was suspended in 2014 until uranium prices improve.