Niger issues new permits for uranium mining in Sahara

Published: Friday 15 June 2007

Even as Niger recently permitted uranium mining in the Sahara desert in the country's north, its parliament sanctioned around us $60 million to defend mining companies against attacks by 'rebels' in the same region.

Niger is the world's third-largest producer of uranium. To meet the rising demand for uranium in the international market it granted 23 new permits on May 12. Three Canadian firms, three British firms and an Indian company who will invest around us $55 million in exploration activities over the next three years received the contracts. 70 exploration permits have already been given (mostly for uranium) in the northern deserts and around 100 more are under consideration.

But the Tuareg and Toubou nomads living in these regions have been attacking these mines. They want a share in the country's natural wealth and complain of neglect and marginalisation by the government.

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