Last February, Actuniger reported that the French multinational Orano, formerly Areva, was seriously considering the closure of the Akouta Mining Company (Cominak), one of its two subsidiaries in Niger. The scenario is becoming more and more precise with the release, on Saturday, May 11th in Parliament, the Minister of Mines, Hassane Barazé. Responding to a question of news, the Minister of Mines explained that “the situation of Cominak is very difficult, very worrying, and could close at term”.
According to Minister Hassane Barazé, in addition to the depletion of reserves in the northern region near Arlit, mining is expensive mainly because of an international uranium market characterized by “very low price conditions”. According to the minister’s explanations to the deputies, the spot price of uranium is around CFAF 35,000 to CFAF 36,000, while Cominak’s production costs range from CFAF 49,000 to CFAF 50,000.
This situation has caused serious financial difficulties to Cominak, once one of the jewels of the national economy, and according to the minister, the company is currently running with a 12 billion FCFA overdraft granted by banks of the place. In 2017, detailed Minister Barazé, she closed the year with a net loss of 16 billion and for 2018, losses are at least 17 billion FCFA. In 2019, according to forecasts, the Cominak “will certainly close with a hole of 8 billion in its cash,” added Minister Barazé who estimated that at this pace, the company could be in cessation of payment by 2020. In his response to the Parliament platform, the mines minister even revealed that it was following a price increase of 40,000 to 45,000 FCFA,
According to the minister, Orano, which owns the company with the State of Niger and some other minority shareholders, has already taken measures to save money to ensure the viability of its two Nigerian subsidiaries, Cominak and Somair, with several hundred layoffs and progressive reductions in production.
Cominak, which currently employs more than 600 agents, has been operated by Orano, formerly Areva, since 1978.