Niger coup raises questions about uranium dependence (AFP/France24 – August 1, 2023)

Paris (AFP) – The military coup in Niger last week raises the question of Europe’s dependency on uranium mined in the West African nation for its nuclear power plants. France’s nuclear fuel firm Orano, formerly part of Areva, operates a uranium mine in the north of the country, employing some 900 mostly Nigeran staff.

The company said last week that it was monitoring the situation closely but that the seizure of power by the military had not for the moment affected the delivery of uranium supplies. Niger accounts for only a small percentage of global production of natural uranium.

In 2021, it produced 4.7 percent of the world’s total, far behind Kazakhstan at 45.2 percent, according to Euratom Supply Agency (ESA), which ensures Europe’s supply of nuclear materials.

“In 2022, Niger was second largest supplier of natural uranium to the EU, with share of 25.38 percent,” ESA told AFP. “Kazakhstan, Niger, and Canada were the top three countries delivering natural uranium, providing 74.19 percent of the total,” it added.

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