For more than 50 years, Niger's mining companies SOMAÏR and COMINAK have been developing value from the country's uranium potential by mining déposits located in the northwest of the country in the desert region of the Aïr. Since the 1970s, industrial activity generated by site operations has been a major asset for regional and national economic and societal development. Following the depletion of its resources, the COMINAK underground mine will cease production on March 31, 2021. However, the site's redevelopment and environmental monitoring work will continue for at least 20 years. A third site, Imouraren, will be begin operations as soon as market conditions permit.
Creating the conditions and carrying out actions for the continuity of uranium mining operations in northern Niger is the cornerstone of Orano’s mutually beneficial relationship with Niger.
SOMAÏR (Société des Mines de l’Aïr) – 63.4% owned by Orano and 36.66% owned by Sopamin (Société du Patrimoine des Mines du Niger) – operates multiple fields near the city of Arlit. Extracted from an open-pit mine, the ore is treated by heap leaching or dynamic leaching.
COMINAK (Compagnie Minière d’Akouta) is 59% owned by Orano, 31% by SOPAMIN (Niger) and 10% by Enusa (Enusa Industrias Avanzadas SA, Spain).
Orano Mining holds 59% of the capital in COMINAK since the end of February 2021 after acquisition of the stake held by one of the historical shareholders, the Japanese company OURD (25%).
COMINAK produced more than 75,000 t of uranium during 47 years of mining at Akouta, Akola and Ebba. Following the depletion of resources, the Board of Directors of COMINAK voted in October 2019 to stop production on March 31, 2021.
In consultation with the Nigerien administrations and its shareholders, COMINAK is leading a project to remediate its industrial site in a responsible manner and communicates continuously and transparently with stakeholders.
Operations to remediate the site are expected to last for at least ten years. Environmental monitoring will continue after completion of the remediation work for a period of at least 5 years, at the end of which a review will be carried out. These works will make it possible to hand back a site that is safe and compliant with national standards, international recommendations and Orano standards in terms of safety and radiation protection.