The Imouraren project was supposed to be Arevas uranium poster child. The second largest uranium deposit in the world, being developed in tandem with the government of Niger, to produce uranium for the global market.
In 2015, however, the project seems to be on indefinite hiatus.
In Mai 2014, Areva and the government of Niger signed an agreement to postpone the uranium project at Imouraren. Areva stated that mining wouldn’t continue before January 2017. According to the Wall Street Journal, this hiatus has no specific end point as of yet. According to mineweb, the delay will last until the global uranium prices, in a steep decline since the Fukushima disaster, will improve again.
As to the reasons of the hiatus, we can only speculate. The aforementioned question of profitability surely poses an important factor. As more and more countries realize the environmental, health and social concerns surrounding nuclear power and uranium mining, it might just not be profitable any more to operate such a large mine. Another possible issue: There might not be as much uranium to loot from the earth of Imouraren as was previously assumed. Looking into Arevas end of year report for 2013, WISE Uranium spotted that 82885 tons of “proven” uranium reserves have been reclassified as “probable”, begging the question as to why there has been no further statement from Areva on this matter.
In conclusion, no definite stop order has been issued on the Imouraren project as of yet. But, in light of global developments, it is safe to say that there won’t be any mining activity in the near future, as neither the global uranium price nor the strange problems with the uranium reserves at Imouraren are set to change. Meanwhile, about 800 million Euros worth of equipment are stashed in Tokyo, Conou and Anvers, waiting for a new uranium boom that just might never happen.
(Image: Nicolas Raymond)