AREVA has announced that current uranium prices are not sufficient to allow profitable operation of Niger's Imouraren uranium deposit.
However, in May the company has renewed the strategic partnership with Niger, which enshrines the renewal of mining contracts held by SOMAÏR and COMINAK (both AREVA-Niger joint ventures). Also, the State of Niger and AREVA have agreed to appoint Managing Directors of Nigerien nationality to the boards of SOMAÏR and COMINAK, in 2014 and 2016 respectively.
AREVA said that it and Niger would set up a joint strategic committee to decide on the schedule for start of mining based on changes in the market.
AREVA also committed to spent EUR 90 million on the development of the route between Arlit and regional city Tahoua, EUR 10 million on mining company housing, EUR 17 million on development in the Irhazer valley,
Upon signing the agreement, Luc Oursel, President and CEO of AREVA, stated: "In the context of a difficult uranium market, AREVA and the State of Niger have succeeded in reaching a balanced and sustainable agreement to pursue their historic partnership."
The Nigerien Minister of State, Omar Hamidou Tchiana, speaking on behalf of the Government of the Republic of Niger, welcomed the signature of this agreement, which finally marks the establishment of a "balanced partnership" as desired by the President of Niger Issoufou Mahamadou.
In 2013, the two presidents of AREVA and CNNC confirmed the advancement in their discussions on the potential equity interest (10%) acquisition of CNNC in the AREVA subsidiary that holds a 66.65% stake in the Imouraren mine in Niger. It is unclear if this deal has been completed. According to the World Nuclear Association, KEPCO also holds a 10% stake in the mine.
According to WNA, SOMAIR and COMINAK were both shut down at the end of December 2013, when their licence expired.
Picture: Niger president Mahamadou Issoufou visits Imouraren site in 2012