Niger mine resumes full operation

07 August 2013

Areva's Somair uranium mine in Niger is now back to full operation following the terrorist attack in May that saw one worker killed and several injured.

Somair mine (Maurice Ascani_Areva) 460
The Somair open pit mine (Image: Areva)

The mine was one of two targets in Niger hit simultaneously by car bombs on 23 May by suspected Islamist rebels, the other being a military barracks in Agadez. At Somair, one worker died during the attack and a further 14 people were injured, while equipment at the mine was damaged.

Ore extraction at the Somair open pit mine resumed the day after the attack as Areva president and CEO Luc Oursel visited the site. One of the two processing lines returned to service on 18 June.

Areva has now announced that the second processing line has been put back in operation bringing the mine back to full production.

Senior executive vice president of Areva's mining business group Olivier Wantz commented, "The Somair and Areva teams mobilized magnificently to repair the damage caused by this unspeakable act ... The Somair site is completely operational today, two months ahead of the provisional timetable."

Rebel groups have previously targeted foreign uranium workers in Niger. Four French workers were kidnapped and later released in 2008, while four French nationals including an Areva employee from a group of seven who were kidnapped from Arlit in 2010 remain in captivity.

In response to the terrorist attack and kidnappings, Areva has increased security measures. In addition, the Nigerien authorities have increased the number of police and soldiers posted in and around Areva's sites.

Areva operates two uranium mines - Somair and Cominak - in the district of Arlit in northern Niger. It is also developing the Imouraren mine at a site nearby.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News