Necsa to be owner-operator for nuclear fuel cycle and new multi-purpose reactor

Minister of Energy Tina Joemat-Pettersson
Minister of Energy Tina Joemat-Pettersson

The South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa) has welcomed Cabinet’s confirmation that it will be the owner-operator and procurer for the nuclear fuel cycle and new multi-purpose reactor.

At the Cabinet meeting held on November 2 it was decided that the Nuclear New Build programme would be spearheaded by a joint procurement team consisting of Eskom and Necsa.

 Eskom will be the owner-operator for the nuclear power plant construction‚ while Necsa will be owner-operator for the nuclear fuel cycle and the new Multi-Purpose Reactor planned for such tasks as the expansion of the highly successful nuclear medicine export programme of Necsa.

“I am really pleased that this important development has been confirmed by Cabinet. It means that Eskom and Necsa will be working together in the procurement of the major new nuclear power fleet‚” said Necsa chairman Dr Kelvin Kemm.

He added: “The control of the development and supply of nuclear fuel is an incredibly important factor in delivering low cost nuclear power. Currently an imported fuel element costs about R40 million and a reactor typically uses more than 150 such elements per reload. So we are talking of a major Necsa project.”

Necsa CEO Phumzile Tshelane said: “This is a wonderful opportunity for Necsa and for South Africa. Necsa has fabricated fuel elements of this type in the past and it is a great opportunity for the country‚ for us to be able to make such a major contribution to this valuable industrial expansion.”

Tshelane added: “Necsa welcomes the role designated to us by the Cabinet‚ as the Owner Operator and procurer for the Nuclear Fuel Cycle and the new Multi-Purpose Reactor.”

Necsa is delegated responsibility to develop a value chain capability and associated infrastructure for uranium beneficiation‚ uranium conversion‚ enrichment and the development of high tech fabrication plants‚ to support the existing nuclear reactors and also the new fleet of nuclear power plants. Furthermore‚ Necsa will lead the procurement of a new 20MW Multi-Purpose Reactor aimed at the commercial production of a number of value-add nuclear consumer products.

 This is in line with the National Energy Plan (NEP) of 2008 which makes provision for South Africa to pursue the following‚ among others:

-Deployment of the nuclear fuel front-end cycle and the nuclear fuel back-end cycle;

-Pursuit of research‚ development and innovation through the use of nuclear technology;

-Localise/industrialise nuclear technology to assist in the support of the growth of the economy.

“Necsa is the owner and operator of the SAFARI-1 20MW nuclear reactor near Pretoria which has operated successfully for 51 years. SAFARI-1 is recognised as the world’s most effectively utilised reactor in its class‚ used mainly for research and development purposes and also for the production of medical isotopes which are sold to over 60 countries globally‚ thus placing South Africa in the position of the world’s second largest market shareholder in nuclear medicine supplies. The procurement of a new multi-functional reactor is in line with the growth plans of Necsa‚” Tshelane noted.

He added that “Cabinet’s pronouncement demonstrates its confidence in Necsa’s capability and competence‚ in executing a mandate of this magnitude”.

“Necsa is fully cognisant of the responsibilities and aspirations it will carry for the country and for the nuclear industry worldwide. This obligation will be delivered with due diligence and transparency‚ in line with developing

South African nuclear technology to contribute to the economy‚ and to localisation in the Nuclear New Build programme‚ leading to employment opportunities and enhanced industrial skills.”



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