Niger: Areva Agrees Nuclear Mining Deal With Niger

French nuclear energy group Areva has signed a deal with Niger's government to renew its operation of two uranium mines in the north of the country.

Negotiations had been going on for 18 months over the Somair and Cominak operations.

The sticking point was a 2006 mining law that increases taxes on extracted minerals.

Niger considered it had not been getting enough out of the previous operation deal, which expired at the end of last year.

Areva has agreed to apply the law, though it will be exempt from sales tax over the course of the five-year deal.

The deal also commits the company to build a new headquarters in the capital, as well as a highway to the uranium mining areas in the north of the country.

"We have been partners with Niger for over 40 years and we have a long-term relationship, above all as an investor," Areva's mining boss, Olivier Wantz, told RFI. "We want to make sure that these mining operations are the best in the world and guarantee a certain longevity in a very difficult market. This is the context of these negotiations.

It's true there were concerns over the equality of this agreement.

A common declaration by Niger's Minister of Mines and Industrial Development Oumar Hamidou Tchana and Areva president Luc Oursel was proof that "we found a balance", he said.

"Together they expressed their joy in having come up with this deal, which is balanced and best addresses the concerns that were expressed over the last few months."

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