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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Exelon buys 300 Tonnes from Niger

NIAMEY, Aug 28 (Reuters) - Niger has sold 300 tonnes of uranium to U.S. nuclear power group Exelon Corp for at least 20 billion CFA francs ($41.71 million) in its first direct sale to the market, Mines Minister Mohamed Abdoulahi said.

The sale, announced on state television late on Monday, is the first to bypass French state-controlled nuclear group Areva , which agreed a few weeks ago to give Niger 300 tonnes of uranium in 2007 to sell on the open market.

Areva operates both Niger's existing uranium mines, located in the Saharan north, and the company has to date exported the entire production, paying the government a fixed royalty per tonne.

Areva's 36-year-old monopoly has been under pressure from the Niger government, which has accused Areva of backing Tuareg-led rebels and banned the company's top in-country official from its territory as it continues to hand out prospecting licences to mining companies from other countries.

Niger produced around 3,500 tonnes of uranium concentrate -- known as yellow cake in the trade, and containing around 75 percent uranium metal -- in 2006, but the mines ministry expects output to double in the next four years as two new mines open.

The Rest @ Reuters Africa

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