Will Niger make France kneel for uranium?

Can Niger bring France to its knees?


Paris has a cause for serious concern as the French nuclear industry is highly dependent on the supplies of uranium from the African country. Nuclear power plants play a huge role in the energy system of France.

French company Orano has been developing uranium mines in Niger for 50 years. The company was running two uranium mines at a deposit near the city of Arlit. One of them is Niger's largest open-pit uranium mine. The mine is to be operated until 2040 in accordance with the agreement that the company signed with the government of Niger in May.

In addition, Orano is currently conducting research to develop one of the world's largest uranium deposits — Imouraren — in northern Niger, 80 kilometres south of Arlit. Its reserves are estimated at about 200,000 tons.

It is worth noting that in 2020, Niger accounted for as much as 35 percent of uranium supplies for French nuclear power plants.

Niger is one of the leading uranium exporting countries not only to France, but also to the European Union as a whole. In 2021 alone, the country provided 24 percent of imports to the European Union with Kazakhstan (23 percent) and Russia (20 percent) following next, Euratom Supply Agency said.

At the same time, the West has been discussing an opportunity to reduce dependence on uranium supplies from Russia for months now. It is widely believed that this will be very, very difficult to accomplish this goal — it is extremely problematic for Wester countries to find an alternative to Russian uranium.

If Niger stops supplying uranium, EU's economies will suffer considerably. To crown it all, rebels in this African country can hardly be consistent on this issue.

French President Emmanuel Macron already announced his readiness for action, although he spoke about protests near the French embassy.

It is obvious that Paris will do its best to maintain uranium supplies from Niger. France will also find support from other Western countries, including the United States.

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Author`s name Anton Kulikov
Editor Dmitry Sudakov