France’s military in Niger to protect AREVA’s uranium mines
France orders special forces to protect Niger uranium: source PARIS Jan 24, 2013 (Reuters)- France has ordered special forces to protect uranium sites run by state-owned Areva in Niger as the threat of attacks on its interests rises after its intervention against rebels in Mali, a military source said on Thursday Reporting by John Irish, Geert de Clercq, Muriel Boselli, Michel Rose in Paris and Abdoulaye Massalatchi in Niamey; …….
The military source confirmed a report in weekly magazine Le Point that special forces and equipment would be sent to Areva’s uranium production sites in Imouraren and Arlit very quickly, but declined to go into further details.
Defense ministry officials declined to comment on the report and Areva said it did not talk about security issues….
Areva, Niger’s biggest single investor, has about 2,700 workers in Niger and is planning to start up a third mine in Imouraren.
A Niger army officer said that there were already security arrangements agreed with France since 2011 after the kidnappings in Arlit and they had been reinforced over time.
“We also have our counter-terrorism units in the Agadez region,” he said. “For now, I don’t know of a decision by the Nigerien government to allow French special forces to base themselves in the north.”
An Areva spokeswoman said this month the French government had not asked the company to reduce staffing in Niger. She added Areva has an extensive security plan for its employees and that the plan has been reviewed by the French authorities.
Areva has been mining uranium in Niger for more than five decades and the country provides one third of the group’s uranium supplies.
According to a parliamentary committee enquiring into France’s supplies of uranium, about 18 percent of the raw material used to power France’s 58 nuclear reactors came from Niger in 2008…. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/24/us-mali-rebels-niger-areva-idUSBRE90N0OD20130124
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