- Two Canada-based mining companies have joined forces to intensify their development of a total of eight uranium properties in Niger. The development is set to boost investments in these uranium properties, potentially increasing Niger's mining output.
The two Canada-based companies Northwestern Mineral Ventures and UraMin today announced they have entered into a joint venture agreement to form a new corporation that is to "advance a total of eight highly prospective uranium concessions in Niger," according to a press release. Northwestern and UraMin both receive a 50 percent equity stake in the new company.
Northwestern has a 100 percent exploration stake in the Irhazer and In Gall concessions in Niger, which have returned very high uranium values from five of 16 surface rock samples collected from outcrops. The two concessions consist of a total of 4,000 square kilometres. The company is also involved in three uranium projects in Canada silver and gold mine in Mexico.
UraMin, on the other hand, controls the six Nigerien uranium concessions Kamas 1 to 4, and Dabala 3 and 4, covering a total of 2,700 square kilometres. These four concessions are adjacent and situated along the proven Arlit fault, north of a successful uranium-producing mine.
UraMin, which was only established in 2005, has its main operation in Namibia's Trekkopje uranium project, where commercial production is planned for late 2008. The company further has mostly uranium projects ongoing in the Central African Republic, South Africa, Chad, Niger, Senegal and Mozambique, in addition to joint venture projects in Canada.
"By combining our resources in Niger we not only bring together the highly prospective license areas of both companies but we also marry Northwestern's established exploration team in Niger with UraMin's international mining team," said Stephen Dattels, Deputy Chairman of UraMin. "This is a very exciting combination and we look forward to proceeding with a major exploration program in Niger at a pace that would otherwise not have been possible."
Also Northwestern's President and CEO, Marek Kreczmer, indicates that the joint venture will lead to further investments and exploration in Niger. "We look forward to advancing exploration activities on our expanded uranium property portfolio in Niger, which is already one of the world's top uranium-producing nations," Mr Kreczmer noted.
Also Nigerien authorities are optimistic regarding increased uranium production and exports. Mohamed Ben Omar, the Minister of Communication in Niger, at a recent press conference in Paris expressed his country's intentions to raise its annual uranium production from 3,500 tones a year to at least 10,500 tonnes a year.
Poorly endowed with other natural resources, Niger gets an essential contribution to its export income from its significant uranium exports. Gold mining is currently being promoted and production of a few other minerals - including coal mined primarily for local power production - accounts for scarcely 30 percent of mining revenue. The rest is based on uranium.
The French uranium mining company Areva remains Niger's strategic partner in the exploitation of uranium, also being the main producer of Nigerien uranium.
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