Niger was the world’s Sixth-largest producer of uranium in 2019. It also has considerable gold, iron, coal, and oil exporting mostly to the United Arab Emirates, China, France, Pakistan, and Burkina Faso. The mining sector is a vital sector of the country, representing 8% of GDP. There is only one industrial mining company, according to IMF, which has since 2017 produced up to 1.3 tons of gold; the rest of the gold mining is occupied by artisanal gold miners, which are rapidly growing. Oil production began in 2011 and intensified following the expansion of the Agadem project by China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and several discoveries by Algerian state-owned enterprise SONATRACH and Savannah Petroleum. Between 1960 and 2008, 42 exploration holes were drilled. Research activities became intensive from 2008 onwards following the signing of the Production Sharing Agreement between Niger and CNPC.
The hydrocarbons potential of Niger is linked to two large basins covering 90 % of the national territory: -The Western basin (Iullemeden basin) and – The Eastern basin (Chad basin). An oil pipeline of 2000km led by china is under construction estimated to be completed in 2023 will link the country’s oil fields to the Beninese maritime coast and to increase the country’s oil production from 20,000 barrels per day to 97,000 once construction is completed. Niger’s uranium potential is currently exploited by two Nigerian companies, Somaïr and Cominak, both of which are operated by Areva, a French multinational corporation. Areva’s global annual revenues of more than EUR 8.33 billion exceed Niger’s total GDP of US $8.2 billion in 2018. Contrary to gold production, which is doing well, uranium production will fall in 2021 with the expected closure of the Akouta mine, one of the country’s two mines. Niger rejoined the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in February 2019 and achieved EITI compliant status in 2020.
The country benefits from access to a market of over 350 million consumers and a pivotal position in between Northern Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa. The country also shares 1500 km of borders with Nigeria, Africa’s leading economy and one of ECOWAS’ main actors.
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