Home » Niger’s Uranium Crisis: Coup Threatens Global Nuclear Industry

Niger’s Uranium Crisis: Coup Threatens Global Nuclear Industry

by Victor Adetimilehin

The recent military coup in Niger has ignited concerns about the security and stability of the country’s vital uranium sector. Niger ranks as the world’s seventh-largest uranium producer, contributing approximately 5% of the global supply. A significant portion of its uranium is exported to France, where it plays a crucial role in fueling the nation’s 56 nuclear power plants, responsible for supplying around two-thirds of France’s electricity.

The junta that seized power on July 26, however, has taken drastic measures, including the suspension of uranium exports and the expulsion of the French ambassador. These actions signify a rupture in the longstanding partnership between the two nations. The coup was driven by widespread discontent over the disputed election victory of President Bazoum in February, coupled with allegations of corruption, nepotism, and mismanagement of Niger’s abundant natural resources.

French nuclear conglomerate Orano (formerly known as Areva), which operates two uranium mines in Niger, has asserted that its operations remain unaffected by the political turmoil. The company claims to have sufficient stockpiles to guarantee supply continuity for its customers. Nevertheless, some analysts warn that the situation may escalate, potentially disrupting the uranium market already contending with a supply deficit due to growing demand from China and other nations.

According to a report by Bloomberg Intelligence, a prolonged crisis in Niger could lead to a 20% to 30% surge in uranium prices over the next year. The report also emphasizes that France might encounter a severe energy challenge should it lose access to Niger’s uranium. It would need to rely more on other uranium producers like Kazakhstan, Canada, and Australia, potentially straining their capacity to meet French requirements.

The coup in Niger has also cast a spotlight on the imbalanced and exploitative nature of the uranium trade between France and its former colony. Despite its status as one of the world’s top uranium exporters, Niger remains one of Africa’s poorest and least developed countries, with roughly 90% of its population lacking access to electricity. Critics accuse France of purchasing Niger’s uranium at low prices while failing to invest in the nation’s development and environmental protection.

The international community has denounced the coup and called for a prompt return to constitutional order and democratic governance in Niger. The United Nations, African Union, and European Union have all expressed support for President Bazoum, urging dialogue and the safeguarding of human rights.

The future of Niger’s uranium sector and its repercussions for the global nuclear industry hangs in the balance as the nation faces a pivotal moment in its history. Nonetheless, there’s optimism that this crisis could pave the way for more equitable and sustainable management of the nation’s natural resources, fostering a more balanced and mutually beneficial relationship with France and other partners.

Source: Mining Weekly

You may also like

Leave a Comment

The African Miner is the vanguard of the mining industry, delivering world-class insight and news.

Latest Stories

© 2024 The African Miner. All Rights Reserved.