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Mine closure huge blow to workers

11 November, 2019The decision to close an underground uranium mine in the Niger desert by 2021 would mean the loss 1,472 jobs and heavily impact communities in the nearby town of Arlit.

IndustriALL Global Union affiliate SYNTRAMIN are pushing the Compagnie Minière d’Akouta (Cominak) management and the government of Niger to keep the mine in operation. The union wanted to present its proposals at the majority owner’s shareholder meeting in France in September, but management refused its participation.
Moutari Aboubacar, SYNTRAMIN general secretary, says: “It is as if workers don’t matter; as if our lives have no value in their eyes. They behave as if we are just a shop that they open and close when they want; without worrying about the consequences of their action.”
“We disagree with the decision of the board of directors of Cominak and call for national and international solidarity to highlight the harsh consequences a closure will have on workers, permanent as well as contractors.”
Niger has the world’s fourth largest uranium reserve, and the union does not agree that the ore is exhausted. Instead, SYNTRAMIN is proposing that the government, who owns 31 per cent of Cominak, look for additional shareholders to continue operations.
In a letter to the majority owner Orano, IndustriALL Global Union is urging the government of Niger to consider the workers’ interests:
“We hope and expect the government will keep its promise for workers to be offered favourable packages, and that Cominak workers will continue to be employed. We support SYNTRAMIN’s demands for special bonuses for workers who have been employed by the mine from one to 20 years.
“IndustriALL Global Union joins its affiliate SYNTRAMIN in urging the company and the government to engage in negotiations for a plan for a Just Transition.”  
The main shareholders of Cominak is Orano (France) with 34 per cent, Sopamin (Niger) with 31 per cent, Ourd (Japan) with 25 per cent, and Enusa Industrias Avanzadas SA (Spain) with 10 per cent.