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Areva faces “uranium-gate” in Niger

Areva’s facilities in Niger.

French nuclear power giant Areva is reportedly cooperating with a legal enquiry by activists who say the company cheated Niger out of $3.25 million in uranium exports.

According to the BBC, the scandal known as “uranium-gate” resulted from a 2011 transaction between Areva, and companies in Niger and abroad:

Their complaint alleges embezzlement of public funds, money laundering, forgery and conspiracy to defraud.

The legal action centres on the allegation that Areva in 2011 bought a stock of uranium from Niger at a discounted price.

Back in 2014 Areva reached a deal with Niger’s government to continue uranium mining as it pledged to pay more taxes and to indefinitely postpone a large project over profitability concerns.

At the time, opponents to Areva’s proposed Imouraren mine in Niger, the world’s fourth-largest uranium producer, claimed the country’s riches haven’t been translating into wealth for its citizens. According to Associated Press, critics have accused the state-owned French company of exploiting Nigeriens since it began operations in 1971.

The country provides 7.5% of the world’s uranium through two significant, high-grade uranium mines, according to the World Nuclear Association.