Orano’s Imouraren Uranium Project in Niger Faces Uncertainty

 Orano, a French nuclear company, recently announced the resumption of development at the Imouraren uranium deposit in Niger, after the project was offline for almost a decade. However, the resumption project is facing opposition from the Nigerien government, which could lead to the revocation of Orano’s mining permit. The Imouraren is one of the world’s largest uranium deposits.

According to a letter relayed by Bloomberg, the Nigerien government has rejected Orano’s new development plan, stating that it does not meet their expectations. The letter warns that if the plan is not revised, the French firm’s operating permit will be revoked by June 19.

The Imouraren deposit hosts around 200,000 tonnes of reserves and has been suspended for nearly 10 years. The decision to resume development comes against a backdrop of accelerating uranium projects worldwide, driven by rising prices and demand.

No official communication from Orano or the Nigerien government has confirmed the information. Still, if it becomes official, it would confirm ongoing negotiations to reallocate uranium assets held by Orano to the Russian nuclear company ROSATOM.

Since the Junta took Niger’s reins in July 2023, the country has been distancing itself from France, its former colonizer, and getting closer to Russia. Orano’s departure or reduced presence in Niger would be part of this strategy, following the departure of the French ambassador and French troops last year.

Orano currently operates Somaïr, the country’s only active mine, which will provide Niger with 4% of the world’s uranium production by 2022. The mine contributes around 15% of France’s uranium requirements.

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