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BESSINES: A STANDARD-SETTING INDUSTRIAL FACILITY

Aerial view of the Bessines site

Update November 2015

Bessines-sur-Gartempe has been actively involved in global energy and industrial issues for over 65 years.

Uranium was mined at Bessines from 1948 to 1995. Today, following its complete rehabilitation according to the most stringent environmental standards, the former mining site has become a standard-setting industrial complex focused on innovation, energy, knowledge resources, health and the environment.

The Bessines site, devoted to uranium extraction, operated from 1948 to 1995. It has not only been rehabilitated in accordance with the most stringent environmental standards; it is also subjected to permanent radiological monitoring.

Post-mining activities

The Bessines complex consists of six entities:

  • The Mining Innovation Center (CIM): a world-renowned research and development center. Equipped with an innovative and sustainably designed research laboratory, the CIM develops and implements new techniques for processing and using mineral ores.
  • After-Mines France (AMF): a key operational unit in the Group’s mining business. AREVA provides environmental monitoring at all former mining sites in France. AMF manages all aspects of mine remediation (remediation work on the sites of former uranium and gold mines, management of mining tailings and waste rock*, environmental monitoring), an integral phase of a mine’s life cycle that is taken into account at the start of the mining project.
  • The Geosciences Center: the repository of AREVA’s rich documentary mining resources. At the Technical Documentation Center, the thousands of mineralogical and petrographic samples collected by the Group during more than 60 years of exploration and mining are preserved and analyzed. 
  • Depleted uranium storage: a resource for the future. Since 1998, AREVA has stockpiled depleted uranium at Bessines that is produced in the uranium enrichment process, thus building up energy reserves.
  • The Maurice Tubiana Laboratory (LMT): expertise in the service of nuclear medicine. In late 2013 the AREVA Med laboratory began producing lead-212 for use in finding and developing innovative cancer therapies.
  • Urêka: the world’s first public information center devoted to uranium mining. AREVA has created a museum at Bessines where people can learn about all aspects of the uranium industry. As part of its general policy of transparency and communication, Urêka offers visitors the opportunity to experience the exciting adventure of uranium. The mine’s interactive museum is open exclusively to groups and by reservation. For more information, visit www.ureka.fr
* Mining tailings and waste rock are parts of the rock containing little or no usable uranium, which must be extracted to obtain access to the ore itself. These substances have very low levels of radioactivity and can be used in the public domain. AREVA is responsible for monitoring the re-use of these substances and handles clean-up operations of the re-use sites identified on a case-by-case basis.

RESPONSIBLE MANAGEMENT

The Bessines industrial complex has a quality policy aimed at ensuring that its activities comply with the strictest environmental and safety standards. 

The Bessines complex has both ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 certification, two international standards for, respectively, the protection and sustainable management of the environment, and rigorous and effective workplace health and safety management.

Renewed in November 2014, these two certifications now also cover the former Gueugnon mining site in east-central France and AREVA Med’s activities. 

TRANSPARENCY AND DIALOGUE

Activities at the Bessines site are conducted with complete transparency under the supervision of the DREAL (Regional Department for the Environment, Development and Housing), the ASN (Nuclear Safety Authority) and the ARS (Regional Health Agency).

Entities to encourage cooperation and studies with local authorities and the public such as CSSs (Site Monitoring Commissions) set up by local prefectures, as well as working groups set up on the initiative of the Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, are working to meet the expectations and address the concerns of all stakeholders. AREVA also initiated a program of mapping external stakeholders of the sites in 2011 to support an effective consultation policy. This mapping is regularly updated.

AREVA also provides the public with regional operational reports on uranium mining sites in France. These technical documents contain information on conditions at the former mining sites in France, any environmental impacts, and the corrective measures taken to limit them. These documents are available upon request from the DREAL for each region.

Contact

AREVA - Etablissement de Bessines
2 route de Lavaugrasse
87250 Bessines-sur-Gartempe (France)
Tel. +33 (0)5 87 59 00 00