PBMR to help Pretoria expand nuclear energy

30 November 2001

South African minister of minerals and energy Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka has said that the country will expand its nuclear capacity with the development of mini nuclear reactors. Eskom, the state-owned electricity utility, plans to build 110MWe Pebble Bed Modular Reactors (PBMRs) in partnership with BNFL and US utility Exelon.

At a conference hosted by the Atomic Energy Agency, Mlambo-Ngcuka said that the government believes the reactors to have significant export potential, particularly to the USA, and could earn the country more than $1.9 billion a year. The conference marks the beginning of a process to alter the negative public perception of nuclear technology in the country.

Countries interested in buying the PBMR include the UK, China, Indonesia, Morocco, Egypt and Tunisia. Construction of the first reactor is expected to begin next year at a cost of around $120 million.

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