French nuclear power giant Areva has abandoned a Kimberley uranium project that gained exploration approval despite bitter opposition from some traditional owners.

Subsidiary Areva Resources Australia said it had formally withdrawn from the North Canning exploration project near Derby because it was not viable.

"Following technical results from drilling programs conducted over the past three years under granted exploration licences, Areva has concluded that the project is not technically feasible," the company said.

It is understood Areva had been considering the move for some time after spending up to $5 million on the project.

The decision is not thought to be related to opposition from Nyikina Mangala, which represents traditional owners of 50 per cent of the land in the tenement. The organisation's stance against uranium mining led it to refuse negotiations with Areva.

The Native Title Tribunal last month granted the company an exploration license for areas owned by the Mowanjum and Pandanus communities on the grounds of public interest.

"I'm really proud that despite of all this, the Nyikina Mangala traditional owners in this instance have been prepared to exercise their freedom to say no," Nyikina Mangala prescribed body corporate chairman Wayne Bergmann said.

Areva said it remained committed to exploration of its more than 50 licences in WA, the NT and Queensland.

The West Australian

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