Anyway, for your amusement:
"Commercial uranium production in tightly controlled Niger began in 1960s,"
ASSOCIATED PRES, http://famulus.msnbc.com/FamulusIntl/ap09-18-110953.asp?reg=AFRICA
NIAMEY, Niger, Sept. 18 Niger started commercial production of uranium in the 1960s at an open pit mine in the southern Sahara developed largely with help from France, the former colonial power.
The Nigerien uranium industry is tightly controlled by Cogema, a company owned by France's government, and two other foreign firms. Together with the Nigerien government, these companies own the only two uranium mining ventures Somair and a sister firm, Cominak.
Niger's first mine opened in 1968 under the control of Somair, while Cominak began operating an underground mine nearby in 1974.
Together the mines produce all the 3,000 tons of yellowcake that generate two-thirds of impoverished Niger's export earnings.
''We don't have oil. We don't have gold. Uranium is our main source of revenue,'' said Amadou Salah, director of the prime minister's cabinet. ''If Cogema stopped buying uranium from Niger, it would strangle us.''
Cogema, part of France's Areva nuclear energy group, owns 63 percent of Somair and the Nigerien government controls the rest. Cogema also has the biggest stake in Cominak 34 percent while the government shares the balance with a state-owned Spanish company and a private Japanese consortium.
The owners are the mines' only customers. They decide early each year how much uranium they'll need, and they place their orders with Somair and Cominak. The two companies then apply to the government for an ''arrete,'' or export permit, to ship the specified quantities. The government announces each permit in a published gazette.
Miners dig Niger's uranium from sedimentary rock, and processing plants crush and mix it with sulfuric acid to extract the metal. After several chemical baths, the uranium emerges as powdery yellowcake, ready to be shipped to France, Britain, the United States or Canada for high-tech processing.
If Niger wanted to sell yellowcake independently, experts say, the government would almost certainly need its foreign partners' consent.
What's more, any clandestine sale probably wouldn't generate a financial windfall for the government. World uranium prices have fallen continuously for years, and Niger's mining companies are struggling to break even, given their relatively high production costs.