Gupta's Oakbay immune to #NuclearDeal ruling

Ajay and Atul Gupta. File photo

Ajay and Atul Gupta. File photo

Published Apr 28, 2017


Johannesburg - Wednesday's Western Cape High Court ruling, which appeared to put the brakes on the nuclear build programme, did not rattle JSE-listed Oakbay Resources and Energy, a company positioning itself to take advantage of rising uranium demand and prices.

Shares in the tightly-held company remained unchanged at R18, despite the news that the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (Safcei) and Earthlife Africa Johannesburg, had succeeded in their bid to challenge the legality of the nuclear procurement process.

Oakbay has kept its sights on South Africa and other countries with plans for nuclear build programmes, saying it expected a 48percent increase in the global demand for uranium by 2030.

The company holds a 59percent interest in Shiva Uranium, a mining and exploration company.

Through the development of its uranium operations, Oakbay wants to take advantage of rising uranium demand and prices. Oakbay Investments owns 80percent of Oakbay Resources and Energy.

“Uranium is the key power source for nuclear reactors of which there is an increasing demand globally,” Oakbay said in its 2016 annual report.

Safcei and Earthlife Africa filed their application in the Western Cape High Court in October 2015 to challenge a 2013 determination by former Energy Minister Dipuo Peters that South Africa should procure 9600MW of nuclear power.

The two organisations also challenged the constitutionality of government agreements for procuring nuclear reactors and asked the court to declare invalid agreements South Africa entered into with the US, the Republic of Korea and Russia.

At the time, the NGOs claimed that South Africa was secretly preparing a nuclear power procurement deal.

“We challenged the secrecy of the procurement process. There should be no secrecy on matters that affect the whole country,” said Siphokazi Pangalele of Safcei on Wednesday.

“The organisations have weighed in on the estimated nuclear costs, especially in view of falling prices of renewable energy technologies such as wind and solar. “Our money should not be used for a deal that is not necessary,” said Pangalele.

During the course of the case, Earthlife and Safcei have publicly asked for donations to cover the legal costs of the case.

They said the case - in which they cited the Minister of Energy, President Jacob Zuma, the National Energy Regulator of South Africa, the Speaker of the National Assembly, the chairperson of the National Council of Provinces and Eskom - had cost them approximately R1 million.

Earthlife and Safcei argued that the decision to procure nuclear energy could bankrupt South Africa “especially since much lower-cost options are available such as renewable energy.”

Read also:  SA's #nuclear ambitions scuppered

Safcei’s Liz McDaid said the two organisations had based their case on the South African Constitution, “which states that when it comes to far-reaching decisions, such as the nuclear deal, which would alter the future of our country, government is legally required to debate it in parliament and do a thorough, transparent and meaningful public consultation.”

Eskom’s response to the court ruling was lukewarm. “Eskom notes the Western Cape High Court judgment on nuclear.

“We will study the ruling and if need be, Eskom will make comments thereafter,” spokesman, Khulu Phasiwe said.

Nuclear expert Kelvin Kemm on Friday said the court decision did not scupper the nuclear programme.

“It relates to the administrative process. It is a procedural matter. It is not the judge’s job to determine the technical requirements of the nuclear programme.

“The anti-nuclear lobby has said that they want to delay the programme for as long as possible,” said Kemm.


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