Niger uranium mine closure: hundreds of jobs cut, concerns for environment (RFI – March 15, 2021)

A uranium mine in the northern Niger town of Arlit is scheduled to shut down on 31 March, cutting 600 jobs, after its resources were depleted, leaving mine workers without jobs and a very small payout package, according to an official of the National Union of Mines.

“We have a lot of our workers who are young– as long as there is no economic recovery in the country, that means that many of these young people will find themselves unemployed,” Niou Amadou, general secretary of the National Union of Mines, told RFI’s Gaelle Laleix.

They have been working at the Akouta mine for Cominak, a Nigerien subsidiary of the French group Orano, formerly Areva, which has been mining uranium in the mine for 43 years.

The fear that the Akouta mine and others would close has been on the cards for some time. In a statement from 2019 that originally announced the end of Akouta operations, the company summed it up as a combination of lack of the mineral and the economic market.

“The depletion of reserves no longer allows operations to continue. With very high operating costs and a sharp drop in uranium prices, Cominak has been in deficit since 2017, despite the implementation of savings plans,” it noted. Niger is the world’s fifth-largest Uranium miner.

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