Guillaume Dominguez, edited by Alexandre Dalifard / Photo credit: PIERRE VERDY / AFP 06:16, 01 August 2023While Niger has been hit by a coup d'état since last Wednesday, the French group Orano continues its uranium mining activities in the north of the country. However, since the coup, the French industrial giant has been worried about its activity in the country. The group opened a crisis unit as soon as the coup was announced.
After the coup d'état in Niger, Orano continued its uranium mining activities in the north of the country. But for how long? Present for nearly fifty years in Niger, the former Areva is a partner in three uranium mines in the country and had begun a process of diversifying its supply several years ago. But since the putsch last Wednesday night, the French industrial giant is worried about its activity in the country. The group opened a crisis unit as soon as the coup was announced.
300 Nigerien soldiers secure the Arlit mine
Orano has three uranium mines in the north of the country, including Arlit, which is still in operation. In a recent statement, the group reports a normal situation on the site and French nationals have been teleworking. The country's political instability immediately exposes mining sites to a double security risk, according to Michel Galy, a geopolitical scientist specializing in sub-Saharan Africa. "At the moment, there are 300 Nigerien soldiers securing the Arlit mine. They could be removed or effectively take control of the mine. And the other risk is a reactivation of jihadist attacks," he told Europe 1.
READ ALSO - Putsch in Niger: are French nationals at risk of being targeted?
In 2010, Orano had to evacuate all French nationals from the Arlit mine after seven employees were kidnapped by al-Qaeda. The other risk is that the putschists seek to nationalize the mining sites in order to exploit them. "Not sure that Niger has the capacity immediately, unless we think that other external actors would intervene. Russia, for example, which would probably be very interested in a new source of uranium supply," explains Michel Galy. Uranium from Niger's mines accounts for nearly 20% of French imports.