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DA slams minister over ‘costly secretive nuclear deal’

Sep 08 2015 11:13

Cape Town - The Democratic Alliance (DA) said on Tuesday that Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson is “purposefully misleading the public” as to the cost of the nuclear deal.

South Africa has signed five international nuclear agreements with Russia (who is seen as the preferred bidder), France, China, South Korea and the US as it moves ahead with the procurement for its Nuclear Energy Programme. A decision is due in March 2016.

Vladimir Slivyak, a Russian environmental policy expert that first leaked Russia’s agreement with South Africa, said the cost of building eight nuclear reactors would cost R1.37trn if Russia’s Rosatom wins the bid.

In a reply to a DA parliamentary question, Joemat-Pettersson, said last week that “government has not determined or pronounced the cost of the 9.6 GW Nuclear New Build Programme”.

However, Gordon Mackay, a DA MP and shadow minister of energy, said in a statement on Tuesday that this “is in stark contrast to comments made by both Eskom CEO Brian Molefe, and … Deputy Director-General for Nuclear Energy in the Department of Energy, Zizamele Mbambo”.

“At a media round table discussion on energy last Friday, … Molefe openly referred to the much denied R1trn figure when discussing the cost of the Nuclear New Build Programme,” said Mackay.

“Molefe is joined by … Mbambo, who revealed at a media briefing at Zimbali resort in July this year that the overnight cost alone is estimated at around R500bn.”  

“Figures alluded to by these senior individuals from Eskom and the DoE are in line with international publicly available reports, which unequivocally indicate that the eventual cost will be around the R1trn figure, which the minister so vehemently denies," said Mackay.

“The current world experience for quoted numbers for real export would indicate an overnight cost of around US$5bn per 1200 MW, which is equivalent to $4 200 per kilowatt per reactor in newcomer states”, the DA quotes Mbambo as saying.

This directly translates into R500bn for 9.6 GW at current exchange rates, explained Mackay.

“However, R500bn is a conservative estimate of the minimum overnight costs, and excludes all operational costs such as the cost of infrastructure development, transmission infrastructure, decommissioning the nuclear power plants, skills development, and nuclear waste management."

Joemat-Pettersson said “the final estimated cost would include all such operational costs alluded to above”, said Mackay.

“Thus by the minister’s own submission, the real estimated cost is therefore far in excess of the DDG’s estimate of R500bn, and much closer to the R1trn figure.”

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