By Abdoulaye Massalatchi
NIAMEY, March 7 French nuclear group Areva
will start uranium production from its Imouraren mine
in Niger from mid-2015, Areva's senior executive vice-president
of mining Olivier Wantz said on Thursday.
The giant mine, which is due to double Niger's production of
the nuclear fuel, was initially due to start production in 2012
but the date has been repeatedly pushed back amid security fears
in the desert north.
"We will start the first production of minerals from the
Imouraren mine in mid-2015," Wantz told a news conference in
Seven Areva workers were kidnapped in Niger's desert north
three years ago by al Qaeda's north African wing, AQIM.
In January, Niger announced that Areva had agreed to pay 35
million euros ($46.71 million) in compensation for delays to the
However, Wantz said the payment as to ensure security at the
site. "Authorities asked us to support the security efforts
linked to our activities ... this has nothing to do with any
delays at Imouraren," he said.
Once Imouraren enters production, Niger will rank as the
world's second largest uranium supplier. The mine will produce
5,000 tonnes of uranium a year but requires investment of 1.2
billion euros to enter production.
Wantz, meanwhile, confirmed Areva and Niger were in
negotiations over the terms of their partnership deals for the
existing Somair and Cominak mines, which together produced
around 4,500 tonnes of uranium last year.
The existing agreements are due to expire at the end of this
year, he said.