Uranium: Out of Africa


"Uranium mining and production is now on the rise in African nations such as Namibia (7% in 2007), Niger (8%) and South Africa (1%)."

During much of the twentieth century, the U.S. was the world's leading uranium producer until Canada and Australia surpassed U.S. levels. In 2007, Canada and Australia accounted for 23% and 21%, respectively, of world uranium output, while output from the U.S. represented merely 4%.

Uranium mining and production is now on the rise in African nations such as Namibia (7% in 2007), Niger (8%) and South Africa (1%). Botswana may soon join the ranks of its neighbor, Namibia. The government of Botswana recently issued around 138 uranium-prospecting licenses for uranium and exploration is occurring "across the length and breadth of Botswana," said Minerals Minister Ponatshego Kedikilwe.

Latest reports out of the continent are Nigeria is working with Russia to establish uranium mining and nuclear power plants, Tanzania has recently issued 70 uranium exploration licenses, and South Korea is attempting to secure energy supplies out of Niger.

Nigeria and Russian state-run nuclear company Rosatom Corp. have entered into an agreement in Moscow at the third meeting of the Russian-Nigerian Intergovernmental Commission on Economic and Scientific Technical Cooperation. The two countries plan to work together to explore, develop and mine uranium properties and construct nuclear power plants in Nigeria.

The West African nation is the continent's most populated country and to help meet its rising energy demands, Nigeria is now seeking support from the International Atomic Energy Agency to help it develop up to 4000 MWe of nuclear capacity by 2025.

The Tanzanian government has announced plans to begin uranium production. Around 70 uranium exploration licenses have already been issued. "In the next three years, if the conditions stay as they are, Tanzania will start mining uranium," said Energy and Minerals minister, William Ngeleja. "This is a great opportunity and we welcome investors in uranium mining."

Just as energy-hungry countries like China, India and Japan are looking to secure reliable access to uranium supplies for their nuclear power needs, South Korea is now getting into the mix. Korea Resources Corp. (KORES) has announced an agreement with Niger to import uranium and purchase a 5% stake in a Nigerian mine.

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