Areva Uranium Mines in Agadez, Niger

Description

The French nuclear giant Areva started mining activities in the Agadez Region of Niger in 1968, with the creation of the holding company SOMAIR and the open pit mine of Arlit. In 1974 a second holding company, COMINAK, was created together with the underground mine of Akouta, close to the town of Akokan. Both Arlit and Akokan were built by AREVA. People living in the area are exposed to radioactivity and death rates linked to respiratory problems are twice those of the rest of the country. Local NGO Aghir in Man together with other EJOs and CSOs of the Region contacted international organizations such as CRIIRAD, Sherpa and Greenpeace to evaluate the health and environmental conditions of the area. They found alarming levels of radioactivity in water, soil and air samples, hundreds time higher than normal levels. The aquifers are contaminated and have been drained, making the traditional way of life of Tuareg people impossible. Miners and their families die prematurely of undeclared diseases. Peaceful demonstrations and strikes have been organized by local CSOs and miners asking for better working conditions and a more equitable share of profits in the North. A Tuareg rebellion has continued on and off for many years despite negotiations.

Basic Data
NameAreva Uranium Mines in Agadez, Niger
CountryNiger
ProvinceAGADEZ REGION
SiteARLIT, AKOKAN
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Nuclear
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Uranium extraction
Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Tailings from mines
Specific CommoditiesUranium
Project Details and Actors
Project Details100,000 tonnes of uranium have been extracted over a period of more than 40 years. The mines produce over 3,000 tonnes of uranium and net USD 276 million in sales per year
Project Area (in hectares)40000
Level of Investment (in USD)1.6 billion USD in Imouraren
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population100000
Start Date2003
Company Names or State EnterprisesAreva (Areva) from France
Relevant government actorsPresident of Niger, Ministry of Mines, Ministry of Energy and Oil, Ministry of the Environment, Ministry of Information, CNRP
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersAAghir in Man, Mail: [email protected], Web: http://aghirinman.blogspot.com/, Areva ne fera pas la loi au Niger, Mail: [email protected], Web: http://areva.niger.free.fr/, ROTAB, Mail: [email protected], Web: http://www.publishwhatyoupay.org/where/coalitions/niger, Coordination Société Civil dArlit, Réseau Sortir du Nucleaire, Mail: [email protected], Web: http://www.sortirdunucleaire.org/, CRIIRAD, Mail: [email protected], Web: www.criirad.org, Greenpeace, Mail: [email protected], Web: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/, SHERPA, Mail: [email protected], Web: http://www.asso-sherpa.org/
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingInternational ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Landless peasants
Local ejos
Social movements
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local scientists/professionals
Industrial workers
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Women
Pastoralists
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment of a network/collective action
Property damage/arson
Hunger strikes and self immolation
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Blockades
Land occupation
Sabotage
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Street protest/marches
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Strikes
Threats to use arms
Armed rebellion of Tuareg tribes organized in the MNJ (Mouvement Nigériens pour la Justice)
Kidnapping of French Areva workers
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Desertification/Drought, Food insecurity (crop damage), Genetic contamination, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Mine tailing spills
Potential: Global warming
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Occupational disease and accidents, Deaths, Other environmental related diseases
Potential: Malnutrition, Infectious diseases
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Specific impacts on women
Outcome
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCorruption
Criminalization of activists
Deaths
Migration/displacement
Repression
Violent targeting of activists
Development of AlternativesThe mobilizers know that Areva plays a crucial roles in terms of monetary and also political control over the country, and they also know that AREVA wont leave Niger in the next feature. They ask for more equitable share of the mining profits for the North and better working conditions for workers
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.Nothing has changed since the beginning of the mining operations and Areva has too many economics, political and military interests in Niger to stop its activities in the country.
Sources and Materials
Legislations

Code Minier (Mining Code), 1993

Loi Minière 2006-26, 09/08/2006

Decree n.2000-398/PRN/ME/LCD: Regulation of EIA procedures

Art. 148-153 Niger Constitution

Law n. 98-56, 29/12/1998: Framework Legislation for the Environment

References

Chareyron, B.,'The impact of Uranium exploitation by the Nigeriens Subsidiaries of Cogema-AREVA', 2004-2005 CRIIRAD

Chareyron, B.,'Du discours à la réalité. L'exemple des mines d'uranium au Niger', 2008, CRIIRAD

Dixon, A., 'Left in the dust, AREVA's radioactive legacy in the desert towns of Niger', Greenpeace Report, 2010

'Arlit Deuxiéme Paris', a documentary by Idrissou Mora-Kpaï, Bénin-France, 2005

Bonté, P., Claudot-Hawad, H., 'Touareg, Voix solitaires sous l'horizon confisqué', Ethnie Document, 1996, Peuples Autochtones et Développement

Chareyron, B.,' Remarques sur la situation radiologique dans l'environnement des sites miniers uranifères exploités par SOMAÏR et COMINAK (filiales d'AREVA) au Nord du NIGER', 2005, CRIIRAD and Sherpa

Links

SURVIE
[click to view]

SURVIE
[click to view]

AGHIR IN MAN
[click to view]

Areva NE FERA PAS LA LOI AU NIGER (AREVA WON’T RULE NIGER)
[click to view]

ROTAB (PUBLISH WHAT YOU PAY)
[click to view]

CRIIRAD
[click to view]

CRIIRAD
[click to view]

SHERPA
[click to view]

GREENPEACE
[click to view]

Media Links

VIMEO, An extract of the documentary 'Arlit deuxiéme Paris'
[click to view]

YOUTUBE, 'Left in the Dust'
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorValentina Bassanese
Last update03/05/2014
Comments