Uranium in Africa

  • Africa has considerable mineral deposits, including uranium.
  • Exploration and mine development is proceeding in countries which have not hitherto supplied uranium.
  • Gabon has been a significant uranium supplier in the past.

Please note:
The country papers on Namibia, Niger, South Africa should be consulted for information in those areas.
This paper deals with other countries in Africa where uranium deposits having JORC or NI 43-101 compliant resources are known or understood to exist.


A lot of uranium exploration occurred in the 1970s, resulting in the discovery of the Tahaggart deposit, as well as other mineralization. According to the 2022 edition of the Red Book1, Algeria has reasonably assured conventional resources of 26,000 tU to $260/kgU. In September 2009 the National Mining Patrimony Agency put uranium exploration leases in the southern Tamanrasset province out for tender.


A-Cap Resources' Letlhakane project in the northeast of the country comprises Gojwane and Serule orebodies, with Gorgon, Gorgon South, Mokobaesi, and Kraken prospects covering the former in a flat shallow deposit, to 75 m over 9 km. It is open to the west. In September 2015 the JORC-compliant project total was upgraded to 33,000 tU at 0.0167%U indicated and 108,000 tU inferred resources at 0.0172%U, all at 100 ppm cut-off. The ore is carnotite in calcrete and shallow open-pit mining with acid heap leach is expected to produce 1150 tU per year over 18 years, exported through Namibia.

Australian-based A-Cap Resources applied for a mining licence in September 2015. In May 2016 the Department of Environmental Affairs approved the environmental impact statement (EIS), and in September a 22-year mining licence was issued. Construction was expected to start in 2018, but has been deferred for two years.

Jiangsu Shengan Resources Group Co Ltd (41.04%) and Ansheng Investment Co Ltd (19.78%) are the two largest shareholders in A-Cap. The company also has the Mea coal project about 120 km northwest and the Bolau coal project adjacent on the north, which it aims to sell.

Along strike from Letlhakane, Impact Minerals based in Western Australia was exploring some prospective deposits in eastern Botswana including Lekobolo, with uranium mineralisation down to 45m. Further south, it had the Shoshong and Ikongwe prospects in calcrete. In May 2013 Impact announced the sale of four prospecting licences to local company Sechaba Natural Resources but this fell foul of licensing delays, and in 2014 Impact put its uranium exploration on hold.

Central African Republic

Having taken over UraMin Inc, Areva was proposing to develop the $200 million Bakouma project in the east of the country, originally discovered by Cogema (Areva) and more recently taken forward by UraMin Inc of Toronto. It aimed to start open pit mining at 1200 tU/yr, with ore grading 1.27%U. Following a test phase from 2010, the project was to ramp up to full production in 2014-15, but this is now delayed after expenditure of €107 million, due to low uranium prices and the need for further research on the metallurgy. It is a continental phosphate deposit unusual for its uranium content. According to the 2022 Red Book, Central African Republic has inferred conventional resources of 36,475 tU to $260/kgU. Areva Resources Centrafrique holds a 90% interest over ten discrete deposits, while the government holds a 10% free carried share. Civil unrest in the country is also a disincentive to development.

Congo, Democratic Republic

The Belgian Congo, as it then was, provided much of the uranium for the Manhattan Project in the early 1940s, particularly from the Shinkolobwe mine, 25 km west of Likasi in Katanga. There was some uranium mining subsequently by Union Miniere, to independence in 1960, when the shafts were sealed and guarded. About 25,000 tU was produced in the two decades until then.

The deposit has been unofficially mined since 1997 for cobalt. A UN report in 2004 described the situation as anarchistic. This has prompted some concern by the International Atomic Energy Agency on account of the possibility that some uranium might be finding its way to countries with illicit weapons programs. In the south-eastern region of Katanga the geology is contiguous with the Zambian copper belt.

In 2009 Areva signed a uranium exploration agreement for Katanga with the government, focused on Shinkolobwe, but has since said that it will not embark on any plans for mining while the country remains politically unstable.

According to the 2022 Red Book, Congo has reasonably assured recoverable resources of 1400 tU to $260/kgU.

The country ratified the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty in 1970.


No current uranium mining occurs in Gabon, but exploration continues. Historically, uranium mining in Gabon has been closely linked with Niger due to the role of the French Atomic Energy Commission and Cogema (now Orano). According to the 2022 Red Book, Congo has identified recoverable resourcesof 4,800 tU to $130/kgU.

The Mounana uranium deposits in southeastern Gabon were discovered in 1956 by French Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) geologists and were mined from 1960 to 1999, producing nearly 28,000 tonnes of uranium. The best known of these deposits is Oklo, discovered in 1968, which produced over 14,000 tU. (Oklo is famous for its fossil nuclear reactors, which operated naturally in the wet sandstone orebody about two billion years ago.)

The Franceville Uranium Mines Company (COMUF) was formed in 1958 and undertook the mining and processing. It was 68.42% owned by Cogema and 25.8% by the national government.

The ore was mined largely in open cut operation but also underground, from five discrete orebodies with average ore grade of 0.37%. Milling was at Mounana. Production fluctuated from 400 to 1250 tU/yr, with a total of 12,147 tU coming from open pit mining and 15,725 tU from underground mining. Operations were shut down in mid 1999 due to a lack of economically recoverable reserves – RAR of 4830 tU @ under $130/kg is quoted. The facilities were dismantled and the site is in the final phase of rehabilitation.

Extraction of the ore began at the Mounana open pit mine (1960-75), followed by the mine at Oklo (1970-85). Ore was also extracted from underground mines, first at Mounana, then at Oklo (1977-97), and at Boyindzi (1980-91). During the last two years, the open pit at Mikouloungou, 60 km away, was mined (1997-99).

Up to 1975 some two million tonnes of tailings were released into the local Ngamaboungou creek and Mitembe-Likedi River system, along with mill effluent. Then four million tonnes were emplaced in the Mounana pit. In 1990 a tailings dam was built across the Ngamaboungou creek for the balance.

In 1985 COMUF started works to stabilize the course of the Ngamaboungou creek with rock, and to cover the tailings deposits formed in the valley along the creek with a layer of 30 - 50 cm compacted laterite. The tailings deposit in the former Mounana open pit was covered with broken rock and laterite soil. Contaminated areas at the processing site were covered with a layer of 0.7 metres minimum of lateritic soil. The rehabilitation work was completed in July 2004, at a total cost of €10.7 million including €7 million from EU funds.

At the end of 2013 Areva quoted 5420 tU at 0.027% inferred resources at the Bagombe deposit.

Gabon is party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and signed a safeguards agreement in 1979, but does not have a comprehensive safeguards treaty in force.


Several companies are exploring for uranium in Guinea. In August 2007 the government noted that Murchison United NL, which became Forte Energy NL, had encountered some encouraging mineralization (or even "commercially viable deposits") at its Firawa prospect, 600 km east of the capital, Conakry. Forte announced 7400 tU JORC-compliant inferred resource at Firawa, with 1-2% rare earth elements present. In 2015 Forte Energy was delisted and its leases apparently lapsed.

Toro Energy and Contico also hold exploration licences.

Equatorial Guinea

The government has commenced airborne geophysical surveys to locate uranium mineralization, and has launched a new mining code.


According to the 2022 Red Book, Malawi has identified recoverable resourcesof 9500 tU to $130/kgU. Paladin Energy, based in Perth, Australia, developed the Kayelekera uranium mine in northern Malawi, west of Karonga. Having produced about 4190 tU, the mine was placed on care and maintenance in May 2014. In March 2020 Paladin Energy completed the sale of its 85% interest in the mine to Lily Resources, a joint venture between Lotus Resources and Kayelekera Resources. The remaining 15% of the shares in the mine are held by Malawi's government.

Lotus Resources (formerly Hylea Metals Ltd.) holds 76.5% of the shares in Lily Resources, with Kayelekera holding the remaining 23.5%.

In March 2020 Lotus announced an increase in JORC-compliant resources to 1580 tU measured resources, including run of mine stockpile, 10,445 tU indicated, and 2428 tU inferred, including a low-grade stockpile. The average grade overall is 0.053%U and the figures assume a 0.026%U cut-off.

In April 2021 Lotus announced that it would begin an exploratory drilling programme in May – the first at Kayelekera in more than a decade.

The deposit was discovered by the UK's CEGB and a feasibility study was subsequently undertaken in the 1980s. Paladin acquired the deposit in 1997, accepted a bankable feasibility study early in 2007, and following environmental approval undertook a $220 million mine development. The mine was opened in April 2009. Paladin (Africa) Ltd held Paladin's 85% interest following the development agreement with the government of Malawi, and the government holds 15%.

In 2021 Lotus acquired the Livingstonia uranium deposit some 90 km southeast of Kayelekera in similar geology, with JORC-compliant resources of 2300 tU.


The Falea uranium deposit in southwestern Mali, 250 km west of Bamako, is being explored by Vancouver-based GoviEx Uranium. It was discovered by Cogema in the 1970s. This was formerly a project of Denison Mines, which acquired it through the takeover of Rockgate Capital Corporation in January 2014. Denison now owns 21% of GoviEx. There are three licences: Bala, Madini and Falea.

Uranium is envisaged as a co-product with copper and silver from Falea. According to the 2022 Red Book, Mali has identified recoverable resourcesof 6692 tU to $130/kgU. Mining would be underground. Radiometric sorting shows promise and several flowsheets are being considered to give three products. Original focus was on the central zone but in 2012 a further higher-grade north zone was identified. Mineralization is in sandstones, mostly flat-lying, and the project is 20 km north of the Guinean border. A pre-feasibility study is envisaged after 2020.

Areva was exploring the Saraya East uranium deposit, 80 km from Falea.


The 2022 Red Book measures reasonably assured resources at 7500 tU to $130/kgU. Australia's Aura Energy has JORC-compliant measured and indicated resources of 6450 tU at 0.01%U, and inferred resources of 4580 tU at April 2018, with 100 ppm cut-off for its Tiris project. This comprises several tenements – one some 250 km west of the others, with shallow calcrete deposits on the Reguibat Craton in the north of the country, close to Algeria and Mali in the Sahara desert. The exploration target would double the resource. Hippolyte is the main eastern deposit and will be the plant location. In 2014 Aura announced positive results in beneficiating ore about sevenfold to concentrate fine carnotite, with tests showing rapid alkaline leaching. In 2017 the company said that the operating cost would be reduced by one-third due to metallurgical optimization, and in 2018 it was evaluating the feasibility of vanadium recovery as by-product.

The company applied for a mining lease in May 2017 and this was granted in December 2018 following an environmental and social impact assessment. A definitive feasibility study was completed in July 2019 for a simple truck and shovel mine up to 5 metres deep on the eastern deposit. In August 2021 an update of the definitive feasibility study confirmed proved and probable ore reserves of 3100 tU at 0.28% in three orebodies for a contract mining project with capital cost of $75 million and all-in sustaining cost of $30/lb U3O8 over 15 years at 320 tU/yr production with vanadium by-product.

Good quality artesian water will come from 20-100 km away. In February 2016 Aura signed an agreement with Guangdong Power Engineering Co Ltd (GPEC) for engineering services and finance, the latter involving an offtake agreement for part of the production. GPEC is a subsidiary of CGN’s China Nuclear Power Engineering Group. The government holds a 15% interest in the project.

Forte Energy NL based in Australia in 2012 had prospects near Bir Moghrein in the north of the country near Western Sahara and at Bir En Nar nearby. In 2015 Forte Energy was delisted and its leases apparently lapsed.


The government's Office National des Hydrocarbures et des Mines (ONHYM) is encouraging exploration for uranium to build upon that done by French and Russian geologists prior to 1982. Three areas are under investigation: Haute Moulouya, Wafagga and Sirwa. The first two have palaeochannel deposits. Toro Energy holds tenements in Haute Moulouya area.

In October 2007 Areva signed an agreement with Morocco's Office Cherifien des Phosphates (OCP) to investigate recovery of uranium from phosphoric acid. The amount of uranium in Morocco's phosphates is reported to be very large, and the feasibility of recovering uranium as a by-product of mining them is under active consideration. In 2007, 27 million tonnes were mined for fertilizer.

Morocco also controls Western Sahara to its south.


In March 2009 Russia signed a cooperation agreement with Nigeria, including provision for uranium exploration and mining in the country. A further broad agreement in June 2009 envisaged the construction of a Russian power reactor and a new research reactor. See also Emerging Nuclear Countries information page.


In September 2022 following a review of historical drilling, Australian company Haranga Resources identified a “significant exploration target” for uranium mining within the syenite zones in Saraya. The company believes that Saraya is potentially “open at depth” with “several possible extensions to the southeast and northwest.” Later the same month Haranga announced that Senegalese drilling contractor International Drilling Company would begin diamond drilling near to the site of the Saraya project in mid-October 2022.


Several companies are exploring for uranium in Tanzania.

Uranium One is undertaking a definitive feasibility study for its Mkuju River project in the Namtumbo district of southern Tanzania, incorporating the Nyota deposit which is the main part of it, 470 km southwest of Dar es Salaam. Government environmental and other approvals are well advanced and Mantra Tanzania Ltd was granted a Special Mining Licence for the project in April 2013. The government has allocated 345 km2 of land inside the 50,000 km2 world heritage Selous Game Reserve to the project – 0.7% of its area – and with hypothecation of some $5 million per year of mine taxes (ten times the Reserve’s present budget) to its management, along with investing US$800,000 in anti-poaching activities. The UNESCO World Heritage Committee in July 2012 had accepted the Tanzanian government request to excise the area required for mining.

Uranium One expected to start mining in 2013, eventually producing 1400 tU/yr, but has suspended the project due to low uranium prices. The 2022 Red Book measures identified in situ resources of 72,800 tU and reasonably assured recoverable resources of 39,700 tU to $130/kgU. The resources are extensive, in sandstone at shallow depths, and present plans are to mine in multiple pits feeding a single mill with conventional acid leach and resin in pulp recovery. ISL mining using acid may be employed, especially for the 13% of resources outside designed pits and also below the water table. One-third of the total resource is below the water table, so the ISL potential could be greater, and the company early in 2016 was actively considering this. Capital costs were estimated at US$ 430 million for the treatment plant and infrastructure, open pit mining would be contracted. Cash cost is $25/lb for conventional mining but overall cost will be over $50/lb U3O8. A preliminary feasibility study on heap leaching lower grade ore as phase 2 of the project was under way, and results look very promising.

The project was commenced by Australia's Mantra Resources, which was taken over by ARMZ in mid-2011 for $1.16 billion, allowing Uranium One (then 51% owned by ARMZ, now wholly owned) to take over development of the Mkuju River project and other exploration activities. The Tanzanian government was claiming $196 million in capital gains tax from ARMZ, plus $9.8 million in stamp duty.

In the south, close to Uranium One's Mkuju River project and with similar geology, Australia's Uranex NL was developing its Mkuju Uranium project, with Likuyu North and other deposits which have significant mineralisation. A mineral resource estimate for Likuyu North in 2012 suggested about 2350 tU. In central Tanzania some 80 km west of Dodoma and adjacent to its Bahi deposit, the 2022 Red Book reported inferred resources of 9477 tU in a shallow deposit at Manyoni, which it hoped to mine in 2013. The Itigi prospect is 50 km west of Manyoni. Mining approval for Bahi was given by the government in 2009. In 2014 Uranex suspended its uranium developments and turned to graphite, focused on its Nachu deposit, and it changed its name to Magnis Resources.

In the south-east, East Africa Resources based in Perth was investigating its Madaba-Mkuju sandstone roll-front deposits, originally discovered in 1978. In December 2011 Korea Resources (KORES) agreed to invest $3.5 million for a 50% stake in the Mkuju South project. In  2015 the company exited uranium exploration and merged with Threat Protect Australia.

The 2022 Red Book reports 775 tU for the Mtonya project in southwestern Tanzania, most of which is potentially an ISL operation in similar geology to Uranium One’s Nyota deposit and 60 km south of it. URI subsidiary Uranium Resources PLC (URA) manages the project. Drilling was undertaken in 2010, but as of mid-2017 no resource data had been published.

Tanzania-based Kibo Mining entered into an agreement with Metal Tiger regarding a 50/50 joint venture on its subsidiary Kibo Uranium’s Pinewood uranium-coal tenements near Songea in southern Tanzania. Metal Tiger was farming into 50% of Kibo Uranium for $800,000 over three years from early 2015, but in February 2017 Kibo relinquished its licences over the deposit.

The government announced a new uranium mining law to be put in place in November 2010 to assist diversification of its mining sector. It quoted known resources of 21,000 tU at the above sites.

In July 2017 a radical new mining law came into effect requiring the government to own at least 16% of projects, and increased royalties. The president announced that no new mining licences would be issued until Tanzania "puts things in order" and that the government would review all existing mining licences with foreign investors. The changes seem focused on gold.


GoviEx Uranium Inc of Canada is planning to develop its US$ 118 million Mutanga uranium project in southern Zambia, close to the Zimbabwe border, when uranium prices improve beyond $65/lb. This was previously being developed by Denison, which announced a NI 43-101-compliant resource in March 2009, based on shallow orebodies: Mutanga, Dibwe and Dibwe East. Following successful licence renewal, a feasibility study was undertaken for an open pit mine with acid heap leaching, producing at $38/lb U3O8. The project has two contiguous 25-year mining licences, environmental approval and radioactive materials licence. The Mutanga pit would be 750x550 m and the Dibwe pit 10 km southwest would be 1500x300 m. First production is envisaged in 2023. The project, formerly known as Kariba, was developed by OmegaCorp prior to its acquisition by Denison and then GoviEx.

The Chirundu project also close to the Zimbabwe border comprises the Njame and Gwabe deposits and has 4270 tU as measured, indicated and inferred resources (Red Book 2022). A mining licence was granted for the project in October 2009, with a view to a 500 tU/yr acid heap leach operation. It includes the Siamboka prospect. A feasibility study was commenced but then deferred due to low prices. The company was also exploring the Kariba Valley/Chisebuka prospect 250 km along strike southwest, on the other side of the Mutanga mining licence tenements. African Energy Resources originally held these deposits but in 2017 sold the whole Chirundu project and Kariba Valley tenements including the Chirundu mining licence to GoviEx, giving it almost contiguous tenements of approximately 140 km in strike length parallel with the border, including three contiguous mining permits. The combined mineral resources are 5,810 tU measured and indicated resources at 0.028%U and 17,270 tU inferred resources at 0.025%U (Red Book 2022) for its Mutanga project including the Chirundu deposits. In July 2020 the government sought to terminate the Chirundu mining licence but GoviEx appealed and it was reinstated in May 2021.

GoviEx also bought the Northern Luangwa Valley project in northern Zambia from African Energy Resources, including the Sitwe North prospect where the uranium mineralisation occurs in multiple horizons and is open in all directions.

Equinox Minerals, based in Perth, Australia, is operating the US$ 762 million Lumwana project in NW Zambia. This is primarily a large copper mine, with two open pits 7 km apart. In 2010 it produced 146,690 tonnes of copper. Following a bankable feasibility study on uranium recovery the company announced 3800 tU indicated resources at 0.079%U and 2570 tU in inferred resources. The 2022 Red Book reports identified recoverable resources of 6967 tU. The uranium is in discrete uranium-enriched zones that are being mined separately from the copper ore and stockpiled. An environmental impact assessment of the uranium project was approved in December 2008 and treatment of uranium ore to produce 700 tU/yr was planned from 2010. However, investment in the $230 million uranium mill was deferred due to low prices and difficulty in financing this part of the project. The Malundwe open pit is the first of two uranium sources within the overall project, where the mineral is in discrete veins in the broader copper mineralisation. In January 2011 the company said that it had 4.6 million tonnes of uranium ore stockpiled containing 0.09% uranium and 0.8% copper. "This uranium-copper stockpile may be treated at a later date, if and when the Company builds a uranium plant." Meanwhile it is being classified and expensed as "waste" to the copper project. In mid 2011 Equinox was taken over by Barrick Gold Corp. for C$ 7.3 billion, in the face of a rival bid from China Minmetals.

Zambia has upgraded its mining legislation to take in uranium, following detailed consultation with the IAEA. It started issuing uranium mining licences late in 2008, and in 2017 was undertaking a further revision of regulations regarding uranium exploration and mining. It is a signatory to the NPT and has been a member of the IAEA since 1969.


The 2022 Red Book notes 1800 tU as reasonably assured resources recoverable to $260/kg, and also speculative resources of 25,000 tU. Other reports mention a deposit at Kanyemba, north of Harare, in which Iran has expressed some interest.

Notes & references


1. OECD Nuclear Energy Agency and International Atomic Energy Agency, Uranium 2022: Resources, Production and Demand (2023) [Back]

General Sources

OECD Nuclear Energy Agency and International Atomic Energy Agency, Uranium 2022: Resources, Production and Demand ('Red Book')