Sahel: French uranium miner evacuates expatriate staff from Niger as security threats grow (The North Africa Journal – May 16, 2023)


French uranium miner Orano said on Friday it had evacuated expatriate staff from northern Niger after being warned of a threat in the jihadist-troubled region. The company late Thursday was advised of a “security event” in a village located halfway between the Malian border and the mining town of Arlit, it said in a statement. “Measures were immediately set in place to protect (Orano) sites,” it said.

Orano’s expatriate personnel and other foreign workers on temporary assignment living in a compound at Akokan near Arlit “were evacuated under escort and flown to Niamey,” Niger’s capital, it said. “The return of all the evacuated staff should take place in the next few days as soon as there is confirmation that any risk can be ruled out,” Orano said.

A company source told AFP that 16 people had been evacuated, comprising 12 westerners and four nations from West Africa. According to Air Info, an Agadez-based media outlet that covers northern Niger, dozens of armed men travelling on motorbike were seen near the village of Inanbagaret on Thursday.

“They asked several herders they came across… (whether there were) western citizens in Arlit,” it said. Orano is the successor to France’s state-run Areva, which has had uranium mining interests in Niger for decades.

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