Thousand of protestors marched against French uranium miner Areva (EPA:AREVA) in the remote town of Arlit in Niger on Saturday.
Areva has been operating in Niger for more than 50 years with two sites, Somair and Cominak, currently producing, and its long-term deal with the government of Niger is up for renegotiation at the end of 2013.
“We’re showing Areva that we are fed up and we’re demonstrating our support for the government in the contract renewal negotiations,” Azaoua Mamane, an Arlit civil society spokesman, said in an interview with a private radio station.
“We don’t have enough drinking water while the company pumps 20 million cubic meters of water each year for free. The government must negotiate a win-win partnership,” Mamane said.
The two mines together produce 4,500 tonnes of uranium for export to France and another project at Imouraren, which will be the largest uranium mine in Africa, is set to start operations in 2015.
The Somair mine was back to full production in August, after a suicide attack in May killed one worker and injured 14 partially shutting down mining.
Prices for uranium are languishing at 8-year lows of $34 a pound and have not recovered since the Fukushima disaster in Japan in 2011 despite more than 70 reactors being built around the world, 29 of them in China.