Danny Fortson writes in the Times:
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It’s an odd place for a group of Frenchmen to pitch a tent city. Bakouma is one of the deepest, darkest corners of African jungle. From Bangui, the capital of the land-locked Central African Republic, it takes days to navigate the 800 km of dirt track to this patch of virgin forest in the middle of the continent. Usually they go by light aircraft to a nearby landing strip.
Most of the 160 or so jungle dwellers are scientists but they are not there to count butterflies. They are drawing up plans for a uranium mine. Areva, France’s state-owned nuclear giant, is behind the project. It hopes to begin clearing forest next year after the government approves its plan.
Bakouma is not an isolated case. It’s just one example of a silent landgrab unfolding around the globe. After decades as a forgotten commodity, uranium, the radioactive element used as the primary fuel for nuclear power, is hot property again.