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Radioactive Revenues

Financial Flows between Uranium Mining Companies and African Governments

Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations | April 5, 2011

CREDIT: Alison Wonderland (CC).

For African countries, the revenue derived from the uranium mining operations of multinational corporations is—despite the high price of uranium—minimal, uncertain, and volatile. The financial agreements that these countries make with the uranium producers regarding their share in the profits are the primary reason for this state of affairs. These contracts are often the result of negotiations that take place behind closed doors.

This report analyses the financial aspects of uranium mining in the main African uranium producing countries—Namibia, Niger, Malawi and South Africa—and examines the activities of the four largest multinational uranium mining companies in Africa: the French AREVA group, the English-Australian Rio Tinto, the Australian Paladin Energy, and the South-Africa-based AngloGold Ashanti.

Currently, one-fifth of all uranium worldwide is mined in Africa, and production is expected to double in the next two years. Nevertheless, uranium mining remains an uncertain source of revenue for African countries given the unstable price of uranium and the dependence on corporate profits. The primary sources of revenue from uranium mining for African countries are corporate income taxes and royalties (a percentage of uranium sales). But the financial arrangements between multinational corporations and African governments vary widely.

For example, Niger has acquired the right to sell a portion of the uranium produced itself rather than relying on AREVA to do so. In addition, Niger's royalties rate for uranium is higher than that in Namibia. Paladin Energy in Malawi and AngloGold Ashanti in South Africa pay less tax and other incentives per kilogram of uranium sold than Rio Tinto in Namibia and AREVA in Niger. The multinational corporations are also allowed to write off investments at an expedited rate, further reducing the value and certainty of revenues to host states.

Over the past five years, total revenues received by host states amounted to only approximately 17 percent of the value of the uranium sold.

Download: Radioactive Revenues: Financial Flows between Uranium Mining Companies and African Governments (PDF, 717.40 K)

Read More: Business, Democracy, Development, Economy, Energy, Environment, Ethics, Finance, Globalization, Governance, Security, Tax, Trade, War, Australia, France, Malawi, Namibia, Niger, South Africa, United Kingdom, Africa

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