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Foreign interest in SA reactor

Aug 24 2009 07:39 Francois Williams

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Cape Town - The PBMR company, which is developing South Africa's pebble-bed nuclear technology, is negotiating with at least two potential private overseas financiers.

PBMR head of finance Lynette Milne explained that Minister of Public Enterprise Barbara Hogan had granted the PBMR extension for publication of its 2009 annual report. In a letter to parliament the minister said that the extension had been necessary to avoid a qualified audit, which could jeopardise the company's chances of successfully attracting private investors.

Milne reports that negotiations with the potential investors are at an advanced stage, but she was unable to disclose their names.

In July the PBMR chief executive, Jaco Kriek, warned that the company had sufficient funds to continue operating to the end of the current financial year next March.

Hogan had previously said that government remained committed to nuclear power and to the PBMR's unique technology because of the advantage that a local nuclear energy industry would hold for job creation and export earnings.

According to Milne, the state did not need to fully fund the PBMR.

The company has already created enough value to make it attractive to foreign investors. Its funding requirements are currently just under R1bn a year.

In terms of its new business plan the PBMR intends to concentrate more on heat generation for industrial processes than simply on generating electricity. The PBMR is in discussion with a consortium of South African players in this regard, Milne adds.

The PBMR is working on a small-scale helium-cooled high-temperature nuclear technology that is inherently safe and can be expanded on a modular basis.

A demonstration plant at the Koeberg nuclear energy plant is envisaged.

- Sake24

For more business news in Afrikaans, go to Sake24.com.

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