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SOMAÏR: Open-pit mine operations

SOMAÏR open-cast mine in Niger

Updated April 2017

SOMAÏR, a subsidiary of AREVA, has been mining several uranium deposits in northwestern Niger, several kilometers from the city of Arlit, since 1971.
SOMAÏR (Société des Mines de l’Aïr) was created in 1968. Its capital is held 63.6% by AREVA and 36.4% by SOPAMIN (Société du Patrimoine des Mines du Niger, the Nigerien agency that manages the State’s mining interests).

Production: nearly 67,900 tons already produced

The uranium ore is extracted in open-pit mines at a depth of 50 to 70 meters from a horizontal sedimentary deposit located 7 kilometers northwest of the town of Arlit. The average grade of the uranium ore in this deposit is 2 to 3‰ (2 to 3 kg of uranium per metric ton of ore)  

From the beginning, the ore has been processed dynamically (crushing, fine grinding, chemical treatment, washing, filtration, drying and packaging) at the plant located near the site. Low-grade ore (less than 1‰) is processed statically using the acid heap leaching method.

In both cases the solutions containing the uranium are then processed at the plant, the capacity of which was increased to 3,000 tons/year in 2012 (7.8 million lb of U3O8).

In 2016, SOMAÏR produced 2,164 tons of uranium metal in the form of sodium uranate, bringing the company's cumulative production since it began mining to more than 67,900 metric tons of uranium as of end-2016.

Mining operations that support local development

Certified to both the ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 standards, SOMAÏR works to improve performance in order to strengthen its competitiveness in the global uranium market.

SOMAÏR also fosters access to health and social services in an isolated region, thus helping to improve living conditions for the local populations.

At end 2016, SOMAÏR has nearly 934 employees, 99.46% of whom are Nigerien. Its headquarters are at Niamey.


The mining activities of AREVA Somair in images


Immeuble Sonora I
Place du Rond Point Kennedy
B.P. 12910
Niamey, Niger
Tel.: +227 72 29 70
Fax: +227 72 51 13