A mountain of uranium tailings in the Somair uranium mine in Arlit, operated by French company AREVA. Photo © Greenpeace / Philip Reynaers
Think nuclear is clean energy? Ask the Nigeriens
1st June, 2010
As the new nuclear renaissance grows, so too does uranium extraction. In Niger, which boasts some of the world's richest deposits, NGOs say that the poor are being exploited for the West's 'clean energy'
In the heart of the Sahara lie some of the world’s largest uranium deposits. Until recently, the region had held little interest to the world’s trading partners, save France. Desert tribes, predominantly Tuareg nomads, had been mostly free to roam its vast, barren expanse; living off what little bounty it had to offer. Then a few years ago, rising fuel prices and climate change revived interest in the atom.
Countries like Britain, India and the US began reconsidering the nuclear option. In January 2008, the British Government also gave the green light to new nuclear power, arguing that it would be good for the environment and national security. Around the world, and most keenly in emerging economies, new nuclear power programmes were being launched. Uranium was making a comeback.
Niger, one of the world’s poorest countries, started to find itself at the centre of a lucrative export market. The government issued hundreds of exploration permits to prospectors from around the world. The search for uranium covered some 85,000 square kilometres along the Sahara’s mineral dense geological fissure .
To view the rest of this article - you must be a paying subscriber and Login
Using this website means you agree to us using simple cookies.