KAMPALA, Uganda (AA) – French nuclear group Orano and the Nigerien government are exploring the prospect of a uranium site in Imouraren, one of the world’s biggest uranium deposits, in the northern Arlit region.
Matthieu Davrinche, director of the Imouraren company, which works with Orano and the Niger government on exploring the site’s potential, told reporters in Niamey that tests would start next year at the site, which is estimated to have reserves of 200,000 tons of uranium.
A decision on whether to mine the deposits would be made later, Davrinche added.
The landlocked West African country is the world’s fifth-largest uranium producer. Its mining industry is eyeing a long-term future as the nuclear industry pushes up its prospects for easing reliance on carbon-spewing fossil fuels.
The French nuclear company, formerly Areva and now Orano, started mining the country’s uranium reserves in the 1970s.
The Imouraren project was put on hold in 2015 after the price of uranium collapsed following the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan.