Nuclear restructuring planned

28 February 2001

Proposals for the restructuring and privatisation of elements of the South Africa Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa, formerly the Atomic Energy Corporation) should be finalised within the next two months and then presented to cabinet for approval, the Johannesburg-based Business Day newspaper reported 16 February.

A sectoral task team of the minerals and energy department is working on the proposals which, if adopted, will see the organisation divided into two elements.

The Pelindaba Nuclear Institute and the Safari-1 reactor would probably remain as state-owned entities, while the commercial activities will probably be corporatised and eventually privatised.

Necsa has already been divided along these lines. Van Vuuren said it could take up to 18 months for the organisation to be ready for privatisation. Depending on which assets were included, the value of the privatised company could range between R120 million to R150 million.

Former chairman Don Ncube said in the company’s annual report for the 11 months to 23 February, 2000, tabled in Parliament 15 February, that the reliance on the state declined 14.2% in real terms year-on-year and by 50% over the past four years.

On an annualised basis the company received R187 million from government and generated R220 million from its commercial activities, of which R91 million was earned on the export market. Pre-tax profits totalled R15.9 million. A net deficit of R14.6 million, compared with the R67 million deficit of the previous year was realised.

“The strategy of the corporation to become a more internationally focused supplier of technologically advanced products and services is now gradually starting to gain momentum.” Ncube said the Pelindaba research reactor, Safari-1, had made excellent progress in producing a range of isotopes for commercial use. During the year the number of permanent employees fell a further 19% to 1200, a reduction of more than 85% over the past decade.

Ncube highlighted a number of new attractive ventures in the offing, including the setting up of key alliances with large international companies.
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