Niger's junta returns French-run uranium mine 'back to public domain'

Niger has confirmed one of the world's biggest uranium mines has returned to public control after revoking the operating licence of French nuclear fuel producer Orano.

Last week, Orano said it had been excluded from the Imouraren mine in northern Niger, in a move that has highlighted tensions between France and Niger's military rulers.

The junta-led government had not reacted before releasing a statement on Monday saying the Imouraren mine had returned "to the public domain of the state".

The military have justified revoking Orano's licence by saying the company "never honoured its commitments" despite two "formal notices" handed to it by the mines ministry in February 2022 and March this year.

On Thursday, Orano said it had "taken note" of the withdrawal of the licence from its subsidiary Imouraren SA.

According to Orano, the move comes despite its recent resumption of "activities" at the site, which had been fulfilled in line with the government's wishes.

The Imouraren mine sits on an estimated 200,000 tonnes of uranium, used for nuclear power and weapons.

But development was frozen after the collapse in world uranium prices following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan.

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