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Areva Uranium Mines in Agadez, Niger


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
Name of conflict:Areva Uranium Mines in Agadez, Niger
State or province:AGADEZ REGION
Location of conflict:ARLIT, AKOKAN
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Nuclear
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Tailings from mines
Uranium extraction
Specific commodities:Uranium
Project Details and Actors
Project details

100,000 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:40000
Level of Investment for the conflictive project1.6 billion USD in Imouraren
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:100000
Start of the conflict:2003
Company names or state enterprises:Areva (Areva) from France
Relevant government actors:President of Niger, Ministry of Mines, Ministry of Energy and Oil, Ministry of the Environment, Ministry of Information, CNRP
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:AAghir in Man, Mail: [email protected], Web:, Areva ne fera pas la loi au Niger, Mail: [email protected], Web:, ROTAB, Mail: [email protected], Web:, Coordination Société Civil dArlit, Réseau Sortir du Nucleaire, Mail: [email protected], Web:, CRIIRAD, Mail: [email protected], Web:, Greenpeace, Mail: [email protected], Web:, SHERPA, Mail: [email protected], Web:
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Industrial workers
International ejos
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Social movements
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Street protest/marches
Property damage/arson
Threats to use arms
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Hunger strikes and self immolation
Armed rebellion of Tuareg tribes organized in the MNJ (Mouvement Nigériens pour la Justice)
Kidnapping of French Areva workers
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-economical 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
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Criminalization of activists
Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Violent targeting of activists
Proposal and development of alternatives:The 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 an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain: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 & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Code Minier (Mining Code), 1993

Loi Minière 2006-26, 09/08/2006

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

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

Art. 148-153 Niger Constitution

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

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

Meta information
Contributor:Valentina Bassanese
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:1062
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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