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On March 31, 2021, the Akouta mine in Niger operated by COMINAK ceased production after nearly 50 years of service.

The cessation of mining activities was decided by its Board of Directors on October 23, 2019.

COMINAK, created on June 12, 1974, has operated since 1978 the Akouta, Akola and Ebba deposits located in the Agadez region and produced approximately 75,000 tonnes of uranium from 1978 to the end of 2020. The depletion of its resources no longer allow the continuation of operational activities.

The date of March 31, 2021 marks the start of the remediation phase in the life of the mine.

COMINAK Last Extraction - 03.25.2021
©Cominak/Orano

Committments

Within the framework of the remediation project at the Cominakcommitmentsva site, we undertake to engage in continuous and transparent dialogue and communication with stakeholders, to carry out remediation work that will make the site safe and non-polluting, in compliance with national standards and international guidelines, to support our employees and subcontractors in a conversion plan and in the development of eligible and viable entrepreneurial projects, and to act for a lasting, sustainable and useful social transition for the local communities. 

Download the full list of Commitments

Project components 

The  remediation project  includes technical, social and community challenges

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Technical component of the remediation plan aims to ensure lasting stability in terms of public health and safety, reduce as far as reasonably possible (ALARA principles) the residual impacts as well as the surface area of land subject to use restrictions after the remediation. 
The technical component includes the remediation of all the source terms present at the site. These mainly include underground-mine works, the mill and surface facilities, the tailings pile and the ponds. 

The objective when carrying out all the remediation work will be to leave a site that is safe, healthy and non-polluting. The remediation activities will be subject to thorough environmental monitoring, which will extend for several years after the closure. 

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Social component of the remediation project aims to minimize the social impact of the closure of production activities and ensure fair and equitable treatment of all employees. 

COMINAK’s social closure strategy is based on planning ahead for departures in order to minimize the social impact of the termination of production activities and, in so doing, guarantee fair and equitable treatment for all employees within a defined and formalized framework 

A Reclassification Unit 

COMINAK has set up a framework for its employees that provides for additional internal and external redeployment measures in addition to the conventional, legal and regulatory provisions. This system is operational through a reclassification unit made up of dedicated HR professionals. 

The different types of reclassification possible are as follows: 

  • Age-related departures (retirement and early retirement) 
  • Professional reconversion through training 
    • internally on site: 200 people trained between July 2020 and March 2021 
    • off-site, as part of the support provided by the reclassification unit 
  • Entrepreneurship 
    • Accompanying employees and subcontractors in eligible and viable entrepreneurial projects 
  • Mobilities inside the group in Niger or elsewhere 
    • About a hundred internal reclassifications to be carried out 
  • Reclassification with local companies, in the sub-region and internationally 
    • Approaches with the Ministries of Mining, Petroleum and Employment to study placement opportunities in major industrial projects (pipeline, Kandaji Dam, etc.) 
  • Maintaining part of the workforce to perform site remediation work 
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Community component takes into consideration and minimizes the impacts of the closure on the community by ensuring a sustainable transition, adapted to the needs of the local populations and in keeping with the company’s scope of responsibility. 

COMINAK is a major player in the economic life of the town of Akokan, supporting 650 employees and their families, subcontractors, and the induced trade. The closure will therefore have a significant economic impact on the town community. 

The socioeconomic transition plan stems from the impact mapping, with each action aimed at minimizing the identified impacts. 
It was prepared in conjunction with the Ministries concerned (Mining, Environment, Town Planning, Health, Agriculture & Livestock, etc.), the administrative and traditional authorities, elected representatives, civil society and partners. 

The socioeconomic transition plan includes: 

  • conditions of access to health care, 
  • conditions of access to water, 
  • management of urban infrastructure (of the town of Akokan) for wastewater and electricity, 
  • support for economic activity and economic reconversion, particularly through entrepreneurship and in the market gardening business, which is very present in the region. 
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Orano’s remediation expertise

With over 40 years of know-how and expertise in post-mining management, Orano, which has a 34% stake in COMINAK, undertakes to provide technical support for the project, working alongside the State of Niger and the other shareholders.

Mines remediated by Orano and its subsidiaries: 

  • The CLUFF LAKE mine in Canada (in operation from 1980 to 2002)
    See more 
  • 236 mining sites in France (in operation from 1948 to 2001)

  • The MOUNANA mining site in Gabon (in operation from 1961 to 1999) 
mounana-beforevignette Remdiated Mounana Mines in Gabon - Before
mounana-aftervignette Remdiated Mounana Mines in Gabon - Before

International Best Practices

Orano Mining, a member of the International Council of Mining and Metals (ICMM) , an organization dedicated to a safe, fair and sustainable industry development, is actively following the ICMM’s commitments and guidance, including those on mine closure. 

Compliance with “Integrated Mine Closure: Good practice guide”

To determine compliance with ICMM good mine closure practices and standards, a gap analysis between ICMM remediation guidelines, which incorporate industry best practices, and the COMINAK remediation project was conducted in October 2019. This analysis helped define areas for improvement in the implementation and monitoring of the remediation project.

Click here to know more about the ICMM Good practice guide on mine closure

Examples of Orano’s Mining approach to remediation and redevelopment

Le Bosc site, France: Low Carbon Renewable Energy, a post closure solution 
KATCO mine : Anticipating Remediation 

Project news

Project news are available in French language

The Information Pack below gives the full overview of the Project

 

DP-EN

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