Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe. File photo: Elmond Jiyane/GCIS
Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe. File photo: Elmond Jiyane/GCIS

SA begins new nuclear plan with information request

By Paul Burkhardt Time of article published Jun 15, 2020

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JOHANNESBURG - South Africa’s Department of Mineral Resources and Energy took another step toward building a new nuclear-power program.

The department issued a request for information on Sunday for 2,500 megawatts of capacity, the ministry said in a statement. Submissions will close on Sept. 15.

“This will enable the department to gain insight into the cost of the program, possible ownership structures, cost recovery, the end-user cost and sustainability,” it said.

South Africa said last month that it plans to expand nuclear capacity within the next five years. The broader effort also includes extending the life of the existing Koeberg nuclear plant near Cape Town beyond 2024 and the replacement of the SAFARI-1 research reactor in Pelindaba near Johannesburg with a multi-purpose one.

A drive for additional nuclear facilities largely faded after the ruling party forced Jacob Zuma to step down as president in 2018. Additional plants were widely considered unaffordable, and the nation’s economic slump has further dented the government’s ability to pay for them.

Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe told lawmakers in May that a contract may be awarded to “develop a modular nuclear station on a build, operate and transfer basis, and that means no there will be no immediate call for funding from the state.”

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