Aïr, Niger - 1997

Waste from the Arlit uranium mine, Aïr Mountains, Niger (19°00’ N, 7°38’ E).


Œuvre Originale Signée et Numérotée

The Aïr Mountains are the backbone of Niger and the native land of the Kel-Aïr, a nomadic Tuareg tribe that once dominated all of the Western Sahara. In 1965, the discovery of uranium deposits in this arid zone and the promise of work attracted populations from all over West Africa. The Arlit and Akouta mines each employ about 1,900 people. Since then, a little more than 3,000 T (2,680 t) of uranium have been extracted each year, or about 8 percent of world production. Depending on the year, Niger ranks fourth or fifth among the eighteen countries that produce uranium, behind Canada, Australia, Kazakhstan, and Russia. Financially, uranium exploitation represents a third of Niger’s exports, but a large proportion of its revenues were allocated to reimbursing its debt—until 2005, when the G8 decided to forgive Niger’s debt entirely. In January 2009, the French nuclear conglomerate Areva signed an agreement with Niger’s government to exploit the Imouraren deposit 50 mi (80 km) south of Arlit; it is the largest uranium mine in Africa, and second largest in the world. With an initial investment of more than $1.6 billion, working this deposit should lead to the creation of 1,400 direct jobs and an estimated annual production of 5,500 T (4,910 t) for more than thirty-five years. Production is supposed to begin in 2012 and should double current output, making Niger the second-leading uranium producer in the world. Yet despite the riches of its subsoil, this country of the Sahel is currently among the poorest in the world (174th out of 177 according to the UNDP human development index).


Prise en 1997, c'est une photographie argentique. Sa diapositive originale est conservée par l'atelier Yann Arthus-Bertrand à Paris.


Œuvre originale de Yann Arthus-Bertrand. Les tirages sont réalisés exclusivement par l’Atelier Yann Arthus-Bertrand à Paris sous le contrôle de l’artiste lui-même.

Œuvre Originale Signée et Numérotée

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