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The Chinese-owned group Somina plans to resume uranium mining at Azelik (Niger)

The Nigerien group Azelik Mines Company (Société des mines d’Azelik or Somina), majority owned by Chinese investors, has decided to resume its uranium mining activities in northern Niger, which were suspended in 2015 due to a lack of profitability. 

Azelik is located 160 km southwest of Arlit and 150 km northwest of Agadez. It has resources estimated at 15,600 tonnes of uranium (tU) at 0.2%. It first came into production in 2010 but was closed due to financial difficulties (cost overruns and low production). Somina, which operated the site until 2015, is owned by the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC, 37.2%), Niger’s Sopamin (33%), China’s ZXJoy Invest (24.8%), and Korea Mine Rehabilitation & Mineral Resources Corporation KOMIR's subsidiary Sarisbury (5%).

In July 2023, the Nigerien Government had signed a memorandum of understanding with the Chinese state-owned company China Nuclear International Uranium Corporation (also known as SinoU) to potentially take over the project and restart production at Azelik. 

After reaching a peak at 4.8 ktU in 2012, uranium output in Niger declined on average by 7%/year to 2.3 ktU in 2022 (-52%). Production fell by a quarter in 2021 with the closure of the Cominak mine.