Niamey, Niger – (African Boulevard News) – Niger’s largest uranium producer, Somaïr, is set to operate until 2040, according to a recent statement from mining firm Orano. The decision aims to unlock the full potential of Somaïr’s deposits to make the mine last for the maximum number of years.
Located in the northern region of Arlit, Somaïr is one of two uranium mines owned by Orano in Niger, a country that holds the world’s fourth-largest uranium reserves. The mining company has been operating in Niger for almost 50 years, making it one of the country’s largest foreign investors.
On the industrial side, we are mutually committed to working together to enable Somaïr to last, to extract the full potential of Somaïr’s deposits and to make this mine last for the maximum number of years,” said Christophe Deschamps, Orano’s spokesperson.
The decision to extend the mine’s lifespan comes as a relief to the country, which heavily relies on uranium exports as a key contributor to its GDP. In 2020, uranium accounted for over 70% of Niger’s export revenues, according to the country’s Ministry of Mines.
“Extending the mine’s lifespan until 2040 is great news for Niger’s economy,” said Mahamadou Saïdou, a mining analyst based in Niamey. “It will provide stability and predictability for the country’s economy, especially considering the current global economic uncertainties,” he added.
However, the decision to extend the mine’s lifespan for another nineteen years also raises concerns about the environmental impact of uranium mining in the country. Uranium mining is a resource-intensive process that involves large amounts of water and energy. Additionally, the radioactive waste produced during the process can pose a serious threat to human health and the environment.
“Although this decision may benefit the country’s economy, it is important to ensure that the environmental and health impacts of uranium mining are carefully managed and monitored,” said Ismaël Salifou, an environmental activist from Arlit.
The extension of Somaïr’s lifespan until 2040 is expected to generate significant revenue for Niger and provide stability to the country’s economy. However, it is crucial that the environmental and health impacts of uranium mining are carefully managed to ensure the safety of the workers and the local communities.