Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Asadho: French Firm Buying Congolese Uranium

The well-respected Congolese human rights group Asadho reports that the French nuclear power plant firm Areva is buying uranium from artisinal miners working at the Shinkolobwe mine in Katanga. The Shinkolobwe mine, which produced the uranium used in the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, is supposedly closed and locked up, although occasional Western visitors have reported easy access to the site. The report says that authorities are "selling" rights to the mine, and then buying up and re-selling the ore to local purchasers.

Asadho previously reported that Areva signed a deal with the DRC government in March to prospect and mine for uranium in Katanga, a deal condemned by Asadho because its terms were secret and provided no assurances regarding worker safety or environmental impacts. The deal was brokered by Georges Forrest and finalized during Sarkozy's visit to Kinshasa in late March. IPIS has reported on the continuing activity of artisinal miners in the area and episodic environmental accidents involving radioactive ore.

[Update,7/15: I emailed a request for more information from Areva and will post their reply when I receive it.]

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