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The AREVA subsidiary COMUF operated the Mounana uranium deposits in southeastern Gabon for 40 years before conducting rehabilitation operations there until 2006. The sites are now kept under radiological and environmental surveillance.
COMUF, the Compagnie des Mines d’Uranium de Franceville, was established in 1958 following the discovery of the Mounana deposit in Gabon in 1957 by the Commissariat à l’énergie atomique (CEA, the French atomic energy commission).
AREVA has a 68.4% stake in the company, while the State of Gabon holds 25.8% and the remaining 5.8% are held by the SGCF (Société Générale Commerciale et Financière) and small shareholders.
AREVA has operated COMUF since 1986.
From 1961 to 1999, COMUF operated several uranium mines in the Mounana region, in both open pit and underground operations: Mounana, Boyindzi, Oklo (54% of the uranium produced), Okélobondo and Mikouloungou.
In all, more than 6.4 million tons of ore with an average grade of 3.73‰ were extracted and concentrated in the site processing plant. Annual production varied from 500 to 1,500 tons of uranium, depending on the period. COMUF produced more than 26,600 tons of uranium.
It had more than 1,000 employees for many years, peaking at 1,451 local employees (88% of the staff) in 1979. Mining operations also generated many indirect jobs in the small town of Mounana, with the construction of housing, a hospital, schools and vocational training centers, and of tarred roads and a power system.
Following the drop in uranium prices in the 1990s, COMUF ceased operations in June 1999 after the last economically recoverable deposits were depleted.
In 1997, AREVA examined a program for site rehabilitation based on a study to optimize and demonstrate radiological protection. This initiative was carried out in compliance with applicable international regulations, and the study was funded under the European SYSMIN project.
The facilities were dismantled and rehabilitation work was carried out in strict compliance with applicable international regulations to ensure long-term public health and safety around the mining area. In particular, work focused on:
The rehabilitation work began in 1999 at COMUF-operated sites, representing an investment of close to 12,5 million euros. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) validated the quality of the work in 2006, after three audits to Gabon.
COMUF provides radiological and environmental surveillance of the rehabilitated Mounana site and regularly samples and analyzes the air, water, vegetation and food chain.
Aware of the socio-economic difficulties facing the town of Mounana and its environs, AREVA mobilized in favor of the local communities by continuing its regional economic development activities. 5,3 million euros were mobilized for former miners retraining programs and the local economy.
Since 2004, AREVA invested nearly a million euros at Mounana in the fields of health, education and economic development several years after the end of its industrial operations,.
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