CAR - French nuclear deal threatened

2011-11-03 21:16

Bangui  - The Central African Republic on Thursday threatened to dispute a contract with French nuclear giant Areva if the company froze a uranium mining project in the country.

"We reserve the right to dispute the contract with this company if its directors maintain their position," mines director Jean-Sylvain Feigoudozoui told AFP.

French nuclear giant Areva on Wednesday announced it would suspend work at the Bakouma mine - which holds 32 000 tons of uranium - because of a drop in uranium prices since the Fukushima disaster.

"[The government] and Areva signed a clause stating that the French company was to start drilling from 2010," Feigoudozoui said.

"If Areva decides to abandon a project at this level and leave, we consider that it has already violated the terms of the clause."

The government was, he added, still waiting for official written confirmation of Areva's intentions.

A massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan on March 11 sparked an atomic emergency at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, leading some countries to cancel or put on hold their nuclear power programmes.

The price of uranium subsequently dropped by around 30%, at a time when Areva was hoping for a global nuclear power renaissance.

Bakouma mine is considered an important potential source for Areva, but has far fewer reserves, for example, than the more than estimated 100 000 tons at the company's giant Imouraren mine in Niger.

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