Arlit

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Arlit
The open pit Uranium Mine at Arlit
The open pit Uranium Mine at Arlit
Arlit is located in Niger
Arlit
Arlit
Location in Niger
Coordinates: 18°44′N 7°23′E / 18.733°N 7.383°E / 18.733; 7.383
Country Flag of Niger.svg Niger
Department Agadez Department
Population (2011)
 • Total 112,432
Map of the southern Aïr Mountains

Arlit is an industrial town and capital of the Arlit Department of the Agadez Region of northern-central Niger, built between the Sahara desert and the eastern edge of the Aïr Mountains. It is 200 km south by road from the border with Algeria. As of 2011, the commune had a total population of 112,432 people.[1]

Uranium industry[edit]

Founded in 1969 following the discovery of uranium, it has grown around the mining industry, developed by the French government. Two large uranium mines, at Arlit and nearby Akouta, are exploited by open top strip mining. One open pit mine was built in 1971 by the National Mining Company of Niger, SOMAIR.[2] The Second open pit mine, as well as a third underground mine, was built by the French Compagnie Minière d'Akouta (or COMINAK).[3] All the ore from both is now processed and transported by a French company Areva NC, a holding of the Areva group, itself a state owned operation of the French Commissariat à l'énergie atomique (CEA). The system of French nuclear power generation, as well as the French nuclear weapons program, is dependent on uranium mined at Arlit.[4] Areva alone employs 1600 foreign nationals on the site.[5]

In 2006 3434 tonnes of uranium were extracted from the Arlit mines and exported to France via truck to the seaport at Cotonou, Bénin. At its peak in the 1980s, 40% of Niger's uranium production came from Arlit, and uranium represented 90% of Niger's exports (by value). A major modern road, known as the Uranium Highway, has been built to transport uranium south, but it has bypassed many towns along the way (In-Gall for example) and has radically changed Niger's transportation system.

Boom, bust and recovery[edit]

In the late 1980s, Arlit suffered from a steep decline in world uranium prices, and the number of foreign employees in the town was cut to 700, a drop which has rebounded by the first decade of the 21st century. The value of Niger's uranium "boom" has never recovered its 1980s level, causing dislocation and suffering for the tens of thousands of Nigeriens who flocked to the shanty towns surrounding Arlit.

Anger at the results of uranium bust, along with a belief that the best jobs were going to those from southern Niger, contributed to the Tuareg Rebellion of the 1990s. As late as 2007, Tuareg nationalists have made a fairer division of profits and jobs for local people a primary demand.[6]

Environmental impact[edit]

The impact on the local environment of the Arlit mining industry has been criticized by African and European Non-Governmental Organisations, and Areva NC has especially been accused of a disregard for health and environmental conditions around its operations.[7]

"Yellowcake" controversy[edit]

In the build-up to the war in Iraq there was controversy over allegations in 2003 that Saddam Hussein was seeking to purchase uranium from Arlit.

Expatriates and immigrants[edit]

Arlit has developed a first-world infrastructure and airport to serve European workers and their families, and has become a transit point for undocumented immigrants attempting to travel to Algeria, and from there, France.

In popular culture[edit]

In 2005 the Benin filmmaker, Idrissou Mora-Kpaï, produced and directed the film Arlit, deuxième Paris (Arlit, a Second Paris) about the large expatriate community in the town.

In 2007 Andersen Press published 'The Yellowcake Conspiracy', a novel by British children's author Stephen Davies. The novel is an espionage thriller set in and around the Arlit mine.

Climate[edit]

Arlit has a hot desert climate (BWh) in Köppen-Geiger system.

Climate data for Arlit
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 26.9
(80.4)
30.1
(86.2)
34.3
(93.7)
38.6
(101.5)
41.2
(106.2)
41.5
(106.7)
39.8
(103.6)
38.6
(101.5)
39
(102)
37
(99)
32.3
(90.1)
28.4
(83.1)
35.64
(96.17)
Daily mean °C (°F) 18.8
(65.8)
21.7
(71.1)
25.9
(78.6)
30.5
(86.9)
33.4
(92.1)
34.2
(93.6)
32.8
(91)
31.9
(89.4)
31.8
(89.2)
29.3
(84.7)
24.2
(75.6)
20.5
(68.9)
27.92
(82.24)
Average low °C (°F) 10.8
(51.4)
13.3
(55.9)
17.5
(63.5)
22.4
(72.3)
25.7
(78.3)
27
(81)
25.9
(78.6)
25.3
(77.5)
24.6
(76.3)
21.6
(70.9)
16.1
(61)
12.7
(54.9)
20.24
(68.47)
Precipitation mm (inches) 0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
1
(0.04)
1
(0.04)
5
(0.2)
11
(0.43)
18
(0.71)
5
(0.2)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
41
(1.62)
Source: Climate-Data.org, altitude: 429[8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Annuaires_Statistiques". Institut National de la Statistique. Retrieved 2 May 2013. 
  2. ^ Somair Company Profile.
  3. ^ Georges Capus, Pascal Bourrelier and Moussa Souley. Uranium Mining in Niger; Status and Perspectives of a Top Five Producing Country. World Nuclear Association (2004). N.B.: The WNA is a nuclear industry funded group.
  4. ^ France and Nuclear Energy and French Involvement in Niger, both from Pederson, Nicholas R. The French Desire for Uranium and its Effects on French Foreign Policy in Africa. Arms Control, Disarmament, and International Security: Occasional Papers. PED:1. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2000)
  5. ^ according to Le Canard Enchaîné (August 3, 2005)
  6. ^ [ l'Humanite, ] June, 2007.
  7. ^ Le dossier sur la mine d'Arlit de la CRIIRAD
  8. ^ "Climate: Arlit - Climate graph, Temperature graph, Climate table". Climate-Data.org. Retrieved 3 October 2013. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 18°44′N 7°23′E / 18.733°N 7.383°E / 18.733; 7.383