Areva: Uranium Mining Operations in Gabon

For 40 years, Comuf, an AREVA subsidiary, mined uranium in Mounana, southern Gabon. Scores of former Gabonese and French miners have consequently died. [1] Nearby residents have also suffered from life-threatening illnesses. Though operations at the Mounana mine were halted in 1999, a study commissioned by the European Parliament in 2010 acknowledged that “past mining activities continue to pose health risks to the local population and environment.”[2] AREVA, amidst pressure from civil society to remedy the enduring public health hazards, launched a health and compensation initiative in 2010. However, the program failed to meet the needs of the local population, prompting NGOs to terminate their cooperation with AREVA saying, “[…] AREVA management had reduced the implementation of agreements to a publicity campaign.”[3] Criticisms included: compensations given only to families of French workers, overlooking local miners, and AREVA’s inadequate cleanup procedures at the site. Local residents continue to be exposed to toxic levels of radiation.[4] Despite its unfinished business, AREVA has launched exploration campaigns in Gabon to renew its uranium mining operations in the country. [5]

[1] Res Gehriger (2004): “Gabon. Unregulated Mining Endangers Lives”, WISE/NIRS Nuclear Monitor, 616 (accessed 02.10.2013); France 24 English (2011): Gabon: The impact of AREVA’s uranium mining, video (accessed 02.10.2013).

[2]  European Parliament (2010): “Potential use of radioactively contaminated mining materials in the construction of residential homes from open pit uranium mines in Gabon and Niger”, Directorate B Policy Department Study (accessed 02.10.2013).

[3] Khephren Fanga (2012): “Sherpa withdraws from AREVA Talks”, Gabonews, 19 December (accessed 02.10.2013).

[4] Grégoire Allix (2012): “AREVA accusée de négliger l’impact de ses mines d’uranium en Afrique”, Le Monde, 18 December (accessed 02.10.2013).

[5] AREVA (n.d.): AREVA Gabon. Discovering new deposits (accessed 02.10.2013).

Case location
Mounana, Gabon
Gabon


Affected topics
  • Human and Labour Rights
  • Environmental and Climate protection
Directly and indirectly (through shareholding) involved companies Indirect investors through shareholding

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