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Russia Eyes Control of France's Uranium Assets in Niger

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Ayize claire

Jun 3, 2024

 Moscow Seeks to Capitalize on Post-Coup Shifts in African Alliances

Russia is reportedly seeking to acquire uranium assets in Niger currently held by the French state-controlled company, Orano SA. Sources familiar with the situation indicate that Rosatom, Russia’s state nuclear company, has been in discussions with Niger’s military-led authorities regarding the acquisition of these assets.

A western diplomat based in the region suggested that the talks likely involved mining permits. According to the World Nuclear Association, Niger contributed about 4% of global uranium mine production in 2022.

France has historically relied on Niger for up to 15% of its uranium requirements to fuel nuclear reactors, which contribute to 65% of the country's electricity production, according to a report by Le Monde. Additionally, the European Union depended on Niger for about a quarter of its uranium supplies in 2022, as reported by the Euratom Supply Agency.

Since a coup last July ousted Niger's Western-allied leader, the country has strengthened security ties with Russia, joining other African nations under military rule. This geopolitical shift has provided Moscow with an opportunity to revive its Soviet-era presence in Africa and pursue access to mining interests. Russia's aim is to leverage widespread resentment of France's influence in its former colonies.

The exact extent of the assets Rosatom is seeking in Niger remains unclear, with discussions still in early stages. Orano has stated that it is unaware of any discussions between Niger and Russian entities, emphasizing that it has maintained communication with Niger's new leadership since July.

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