Last week Stratfor issued a cool piece, “Niger: The Coup and Uranium.” This is straight up natural security reading for you, dear readers. You can get the full article in exchange for your email address, which I’d suggest is worth the price for the map and chart they provide. A few brief highlights:
Niger contains one of the largest deposits of uranium in the world and was the world’s sixth-largest producer in 2008...France maintained a monopoly on Niger’s uranium production for more than three decades following the beginning of commercial production in 1971. But Niamey has begun to open its doors to other countries — most notably China, which has been increasingly active on the African continent in recent years.
...While uranium does not form as high of a percentage of Niger’s gross domestic product as might be expected (roughly 7 percent in 2008), the junta nonetheless has a financial incentive to keep these operations running smoothly. Uranium constitutes roughly half of Niger’s exports and the lion’s share of foreign direct investment — meaning that whoever controls the purse strings of the government has access to big money.
A tip of the hat to our Senior Military Fellow from the Marine Corps for this one!