At least one fifth of France’s light bulbs are powered by Nigerien uranium. The French state-owned industrial firm Areva extracts the radioactive element from two mines outside the town of Arlit in Niger.
The company has been renegotiating its licence to extract uranium in the country. After two years of unfruitful negotiations with the Nigerien government, the previous licence expired in December. The government is seeking to increase the royalties it charges on uranium revenues. Areva claims this will make its mining operations unprofitable. Last month, it temporarily ceased all production for what it says is routine maintenance, but what its opponents see as a ploy to put pressure on the government.
This, the second film on mining in Arlit, focuses on ex-employees of Areva and their families. Greenpeace and local activists claim that radioactive contamination from the company’s operations has led to illnesses among the employees and local population. Areva strongly denies this allegation.