Areva: Uranium Mining Operations in Niger

AREVA is the second largest uranium producer in the world (16% market share in 2011). The company has a multitude of uranium mining operations across the globe in countries like Niger, Canada, Australia, and Kazakhstan.[1] Nevertheless, the company extracts approximately one-third of their uranium from just two mines in Niger, one of Africa’s poorest countries, despite its long-standing status as the world’s third largest uranium producer.[2] AREVA plans to open a third uranium mine – Africa’s largest – in Niger in 2015. [3]
The long-term consequences of uranium mining are apparent in Niger. Uranium mining has been prevalent in Niger for over 40 years. According to a 2010 Greenpeace report, water, air, and soil contamination levels in the mining towns of Arlit and Akokan exceed international limits.[4] Furthermore, AREVA’s practice of dumping sludge produced through its operations haphazardly into large piles allows radioactive dust and radon gas to seep into the open air.
In May 2012, a French court ruled that AREVA made an “inexcusable mistake” when a former employee died from lung cancer after regularly inhaling uranium dust without adequate protective gear during his seven years working at a Cominak (AREVA subsidiary) mine in Akokan, Niger. The court ordered AREVA to pay €200,000 in damages to the employee’s family.[5]
[1] AREVA (2013): Our worldwide presence (accessed 01.10.2013)
[2] NIAMEY. (2013, October 05). Audit of Areva mines in Niger to conclude this month: ambassador. Retrieved October 30, 2013, from Reuters.
[3] AREVA (2013): Update on AREVA’s activities in Niger, 11 March (accessed 02.10.2013).
[4] Greenpeace. (2010). Left in the dust: AREVA’s radioactive legacy in the desert towns of Niger. Retrieved October 29, 2013.