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Russia Reportedly Pursues French-Controlled Uranium Resources in Niger

France is betting on Niger to pursue the dream of energy sovereigntyRussia’s state nuclear company, has engaged with Niger’s military-led authorities about acquiring assets held by France’s Orano SA, according to a source in Moscow familiar with the matter, who requested anonymity due to the private nature of the discussions. A western diplomat in the region indicated that the talks likely involve mining permits. Niger accounted for about 4% of global uranium mine production in 2022, according to the World Nuclear Association.

Following a coup last July that ousted Niger’s Western-allied leader, the country has become one of several African nations, many of them under military rule, to strengthen security ties with Russia. This shift has provided Moscow with opportunities to seek mining interests as it aims to revive its Soviet-era presence in Africa, capitalizing on widespread resentment of France’s long-standing influence in its former colonies.

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“Russia has been stepping up its economic, diplomatic, and military links in Africa, including after the Niger coup, and they see this part of the world as a strategic investment opportunity,” said Mark Hibbs, a Berlin-based nuclear analyst with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “Hand in hand, Rosatom has been diversifying its uranium investments in Africa.”

The extent of Rosatom’s interest in Niger’s assets is unclear, with discussions described by the Moscow source as being at an early stage and not yet reaching formal negotiations or setting terms for any transfer.

 

Orano holds majority stakes in the operating company of Somair, an open-pit mine; Cominak, a now-shuttered underground mine; and the Imouraren project, which has been suspended since 2015, according to its website.

Russia reportedly seeks control of France's uranium assets in Niger |  Business Insider Africa

Orano stated it is unaware of any discussions between Niger and Russian entities and has continued to engage with Niger’s new leaders since July. Niger Prime Minister Ali Mahamane Lamine Zeine’s office declined to comment, and spokespeople for Rosatom, the French presidency, and the Kremlin did not respond to requests for comment.

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