Niger junta temporarily stops granting new mining licences

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NIAMEY, Jan 25 (Reuters) – Niger’s self-appointed military government has temporarily suspended the granting of new mining licences and ordered an audit of the sector, the mines ministry said.

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The ministry did not provide a reason for the licence suspension in its Jan. 22 statement that was seen by Reuters on Thursday. The mines minister did not respond to calls for comment.

The West African nation has the continent’s highest-grade uranium ores and is the world’s seventh-biggest producer of uranium, the radioactive metal used as fuel for nuclear energy.

It has one major uranium mining operation in the north operated by France’s state-owned Orano. Those operations have continued despite a military coup in July last year.

Several artisanal gold mines also operate in the country. Ghana’s Nguvu Mining owns the only commercial gold mine in the southwest.

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