French nuclear energy company Areva will develop a third mine in Imouraren, Northern Niger, in 2014/2015, expected to last 35 years.
Areva has mined uranium in Niger for over 40 years, with devastating environmental and health consequences in Arlit and Akokan. 270 billion litres of water have been used, draining aquifers. Residents of both towns have reported diseases from radioactive contamination. A study conducted by Greenpeace found that radiation levels were almost 500 times higher than normal background levels in the mining town of Akokan.
In April 2012, 800 workers at Imouraren staged a strike over work conditions and in July 2012, 1200 workers at the COMINAK mine undertook a 72 hour strike to demand higher wages.
Aghi InMan, a local NGO, is calling for a new Environmental Impact Assessment of the new project, including addressing concerns about its hydro-geological impact, storage of radioactive materials and compensation for affected communities before the project begins. The Nigerian government plans to re-negotiate the mining agreement with Areva in 2013.
During the current intervention in Mali (since Dec 2012), French forces were sent to protect the new mine. A group of civil society organizations are calling on the government and ordinary Nigerians to take action.