Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

Search of Air Algerie crash site continues

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Sarkozy, Hollande and the scooter wars

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Confusion online over Air Algérie flight

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - July 25th, 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - July 25th, 2014

Read more

REPORTERS

Halal tourism on the rise

Read more

ENCORE!

Tunisia's Carthage International Festival turns 50

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

WWI Centenary: the battle for Verdun

Read more

THE BUSINESS INTERVIEW

When big companies want to do good

Read more

  • Limited 12-hour humanitarian truce takes effect in Gaza

    Read more

  • Video: 'Lack of security' at MH17 crash site, FRANCE 24 reports

    Read more

  • In pictures: Devastation, debris at Air Algérie crash site

    Read more

  • Paris march for Gaza to go ahead Saturday despite police ban

    Read more

  • Kerry due in Paris for new round of Gaza ceasefire talks

    Read more

  • Washington Post reporter and his wife arrested in Iran

    Read more

  • French families grieve for Algerian plane crash victims

    Read more

  • Lithuania’s Navardauskas wins 19th stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • LA Times wipes France off the map in air crash infographic

    Read more

  • Fans electrify the mood as Tour de France crosses the Pyrenees

    Read more

  • French lawyer files complaint against Israel at ICC

    Read more

  • Protest against Gaza offensive turns deadly in West Bank

    Read more

  • Halal tourism on the rise

    Read more

  • Ukraine names acting PM after Yatseniuk's shock resignation

    Read more

  • BNP to pay $80 million for defrauding Dept of Agriculture

    Read more

  • Deadly strike on UN shelter in Gaza Strip

    Read more

  • Pope meets Christian woman sentenced to death in Sudan

    Read more

Africa

Sarkozy backs Areva's uranium deal in Niger

Video by FRANCE 3 , Luke SHRAGO

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2009-03-28

French President Nicolas Sarkozy stopped off in Niger's capital, Niamey, on the last stop of an African tour that took him to the DR Congo and Congo-Brazzaville. Talks focused on Niger's large uranium resources and a deal with Areva.

Nicolas Sarkozy’s African tour ends on Friday in Niger, a former colony and strategic stop for France’s energy policy. The French president was welcomed at Niamey airport by President Mamadou Tandja.

 

Sarkozy is expected to back a controversial deal signed in January between French nuclear giant Areva and Niger’s government that would lead to the exploitation of the Imouraren mining site in northern Niger, the world’s second biggest uranium deposit.

 

Under the deal, the Niger government would retain control of a third of the mine, where 5,000 tons of uranium would be extracted annually. Areva is investing 1.2 billion euros in the operation.

 

France takes great pride in a civilian nuclear program that it says is the key to its energy independency. But the reality is more complex, says Yves Marignac, director of the World Information Forum on Energy.

 

“One hundred percent of uranium in France comes from abroad,” he says. “A large part comes from Niger. With this contract, its share could increase.” The visit comes a day after Areva chief executive Anne Lauvergeon signed an agreement for mining research and exploration with the Congolese government, on the sidelines of Sarkozy's visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

 

Niger has one big asset compared with rival uranium exporters Australia and Canada, Martignac adds. “It is the only country that has a uranium contract that doesn’t prevent France from using the ore for something else than a civilian nuclear program.”

 

But the deal has come under scrutiny in France. Environmentalists have warned Areva against the temptation to enforce poor safety and environmental standards in the mostly desert region.

 

There are also mounting allegations that the Niger government expelled nomadic Tuareg tribes to make way for the French operation. Tuareg rebels have threatened to attack the uranium mine and transport as they did once in 2007.

 

It is a tense situation that contributes to blurring the line between trade relations and neo-colonialism.

 

“A vice-director of Areva has been quoted saying that the nuclear company has urged the French government to help Niger’s government stamp out the rebellion,” Martignac says.

 

Sarkozy was, with Areva CEO Anne Lauvergeon, due to take part in a meeting of the local chapter of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), an international attempt to set global standards for companies on publishing what they pay and for governments on disclosing what they receive.

 

Sarkozy is also scheduled to hold a press conference before flying back to Paris late on Friday afternoon.
 

Date created : 2009-03-27

COMMENT(S)