Areva Uranium mining in Imouraren, Niger

Description

French nuclear energy company Areva will develop a third mine in Imouraren, Northern Niger, in 2014/2015, expected to last 35 years.

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Basic Data
NameAreva Uranium mining in Imouraren, Niger
CountryNiger
ProvinceNiger
SiteAgadez region
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Nuclear
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Nuclear waste storage
Water access rights and entitlements
Nuclear power plants
Uranium extraction
Specific Commodities
Electricity
Water
Uranium
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsAccording to Areva, the Imouraren deposit contains one of the worlds largest uranium deposits and will be the largest open-pit mine in Africa. The uranium is a large, but low-grade quantity (0.8 kilograms of uranium per metric ton of rock on average) and it lies deep under the surface (110-170 meters). The estimated production is 5000 metric tonnes per year for more than 35 years. There are 3.8 billion tonnes of waste rock to be extracted from a deposit that measures 8 km long and 2.5 kilometres wide.

Project Area (in hectares)20000
Level of Investment (in USD)1500000000
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Company Names or State EnterprisesAreva (Areva) from France
Subsidiaries - COMINAK, SOMAIR, Imouraren SA
China National Nuclear Corporation from China
Guangdong Nuclear Power from China
Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) from Republic of Korea
Relevant government actorsPresident of the Republic of Niger, Regional Council of Agadez, Traditional chiefs of Agadez region
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersLe Groupement des organisations de la socit civile de la region d Agadez GOSCRAZ, Aghir Inman: http://aghirinman.blogspot.fr, Committee for independent research and information on radioactivity (CRIIRAD): www.criirad.org, CREN (local environmental group), ROTAB (Nigerian NGO network), http://www.rotabniger.org/, Sherpa (French human rights organization), http://www.asso-sherpa.org/association/notre-mission, Tchinaghen Association, FUSAD, Syntramines Union, AUA African Uranium Alliance
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
Industrial workers
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Forms of MobilizationCreation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Objections to the EIA
Public campaigns
Shareholder/financial activism.
Strikes
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Mine tailing spills
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Occupational disease and accidents, Deaths
OtherExposure to radioactivity can cause respiratory problems, birth defects, leukaemia and cancer. Disease and poor health abound in this region, and death rates linked to respiratory problems are twice that of the rest of the country. AREVA has failed to take responsibility for any impacts. Its hospitals have been accused of misdiagnosing cases of cancer as HIV. It claims there has never been a case of cancer attributable to mining in 40 years. But the local hospitals do not staff any occupational doctors, making it impossible for someone to be diagnosed with a work related illness.
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood
Outcome
Project StatusUnder construction
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseApplication of existing regulations
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Development of Alternatives-GOSCRAZ is calling on the Nigerian government and on ordinary Nigerians to take note of the disastrous consequences of Arevas mining activities and to take action.

-NGO Aghir InMan is calling for Areva to conduct a new EIA, using the expertise of independent scientists, and to address the following concerns:

-That the terms of extraction are different from those described in the initial assessment.

-That there is no water in the wells around Imouraren.

-That the initial impact study does not indicate an exclusion zone around the mine of 450 km 2.

The organization noted that the existing EIA was in violation of Nigerian law.

-Concerning Arevas other two mines, Greenpeace is calling for an independent study around the mines and towns of Arlit and Akokan. As well as a thorough clean-up and decontamination process. As well, Areva should follow international safety norms in its operations, with consideration for its workers, surrounding populations and the environment. The company should inform its workers and the local community about the risks of uranium mining.

-Greenpeace calls on the leaders of Niger to ensure that environmental and health agencies are properly funded, educated, and equipped, and that the people of Niger are compensated fairly for their lands and resources.

-Ultimately, Greenpeace calls for an energy revolution based on sustainable, cheap and safe renewable energies and energy efficiency.

Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.Over the decades that Areva has been operational in Northern Niger, people have become more aware of the health and environmental impacts of radioactivity, which has enabled them to mobilize more effectively. Greenpeace also conducted an independent investigation on levels of radioactivity in the vicinity of the companys two mines. Local NGOs like Aghir InMan, with international support, are mobilizing to hold the company to account before it begins it new project at Imouraren. However, the company is already violating an original impact study of the mine, it has not included in the new project an exclusion zone of 450 km 2 and the wells surrounding the project are already dry. Strikes over working conditions were held last year. According to the newspaper Les Afriques, Niger has lost between 14.5 and 21 billion Euros since 1960 from potential mining revenues. Currently, French forces are intervening to protect the mine and Frances interests in the region.
Sources and Materials
References

Greenpeace. Left in the Dust. Arevas Radioactive Legacy in the Desert Towns of Niger. (April 2010). Accessed January 16, 2013.
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Accompanying video (Uploaded May 5, 2010)
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Links

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Aghir InMan. Communiqu de Presse, CRIIRAD et ONG AGHIRINMAN. Press Release. (September 1, 2012).
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Areva online.
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Reuters. Areva to Pay 3 million Euros compensation for Niger Mine Delay. (January 14, 2013). Accessed via Mining Weekly.
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Reuters. Niger Areva Uranium Workers Begin 72 Hours Strike. (July 9, 2012).
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Reuters. Strike Halts Work on Niger Imouraren Uranium Mine. (April 25, 2012).
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Reuters. Niger Uranium Workers Threaten to Expand Strike. (April 26, 2012).
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VOA. Environmentalists Question Niger Uranium Mine. (November 2, 2009).
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China Daily. Chinese Firm Expected to Take Stake in Niger Uranium Miner. (October 26, 2012)
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Spiegel Online. Uranium Mining in Niger: Tuareg Activist Takes on French Nuclear Company. (April 2010). (6774.html
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The Guardian. Safety Concerns Dog French Uranium Mines in Niger. (October 15, 2010).
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Zone Bourse. World Uranium Index.
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Reuters. France Orders Special forces to Protect Niger Uranium: Source. (January 24, 2013).
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Temoust. Communiqu de Groupement des organisations de la socit civile de la rgion dAgadez dnomm GOSCRAZ. (January 13, 2013)

Media Links

Greenpeace
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Meta Information
ContributorZahra Moloo
Last update08/04/2014
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