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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Areva Aquires Central African Republic Uranium Mine

Mon 22 Oct 2007, 15:09 GMT

By Paul-Marin Ngoupana

BANGUI, Oct 22 (Reuters) - A uranium mine in Central African Republic was acquired by France's Areva group without the consent of the CAR government, which is seeking a negotiated settlement with the company, President Francois Bozize said.

In an interview published on Sunday in the latest edition of Jeune Afrique magazine, Bozize said his country would take the matter to the courts if it did not reach an agreement with the French nuclear technology giant over the Bakouma mine.

In July, Areva, a French state-owned group whose activities range from uranium mining to nuclear reactors and waste recycling, said it had taken control of Canadian-listed miner UraMin whose assets included an exploration contract for Bakouma.

But the Central African Republic is contesting Areva's takeover of the Bakouma contract as "irregular", arguing the terms of the deal previously signed with UraMin required the CAR government's consent for any change.

"Areva went on to acquire UraMin without our consent. So that's where the blockage is," Bozize told Jeune Afrique.

"It's out of the question for our national patrimony to be bandied about in a game between capitalists on the London Stock Exchange. This is beyond the comprehension of the people of Central African Republic," he added.

Bozize indicated his country expected Areva to offer improved terms or some kind of additional payment for taking over the Bakouma contract.

"Well, we're negotiating with Areva ... if that doesn't reach a conclusion, we'll look to our lawyers, but I don't think that is in the group's interests," he told Jeune Afrique.

Bozize said other African countries like Niger and Namibia had obtained newly negotiated deals from the French company, which has said that deposits identified by UraMin in South Africa, Namibia and the Central African Republic will increase Areva's uranium output by around 7,000 tons annually after 2012.

Fresh comment from Areva on Monday was not immediately available.

The Rest @ Reuters Africa

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