Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta has long been plagued by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), a rebel group whose attacks against oil infrastructure and personnel have slashed Nigerian oil output by a fifth (the country is the world’s eighth-largest oil exporter). Now, Reuters reports that “insecurity in northern Niger, where Tuareg rebels are fighting government forces, is stifling investment in the vast desert nation’s mining industry.” Niger is one of the world’s top uranium producers and has handed out 127 mining exploration permits over the last three years in order to attract more investment. Interest in uranium for nuclear power generation has increased in recent years due to high oil prices and concerns about global warming. In fact, U.S. President Barack Obama’s energy secretary, Steven Chu, has repeatedly stated that nuclear power must play a role in new energy sources for America, as it is still the cheapest clean energy on Earth.  But the Tuareg rebellion, which has split into several factions, harbors complaints that the nomads have been marginalized by successive governments.  The main Tuareg group, the Niger Justice Movement (MNJ), has threatened to target the northern mines.

Advertisements