SA to close nuclear technology firm: paper


South Africa intends winding up its nuclear technology firm PBMR, which has struggled to secure foreign investors, reports a newspaper.

South Africa is one of the pioneers in developing a power and heat processing plant based on pebble-fuel technology, a fourth-generation nuclear plant that can be used to generate electricity.

The government withdrew its support for the programme earlier this year after the public questioned whether South Africa should keep spending on a technology not yet proven, Reuters reports.
“Government has been working very hard exploring ways to wind down operations at PBMR,” the Cape Times newspaper quoted Ayanda Shezi, a spokeswoman at the Department of Public Enterprises, as saying.

Shezi said her department, which oversees state-owned enterprises, would ask cabinet to approve its proposals to shut down the company completely “within the next few weeks”.

She was not immediately available to comment.

The Industrial Development Corporation, a South African state-owned finance institution, and US-based Westinghouse, which is majority owned by Japan’s Toshiba Corp., have invested more than 8 billion rand to develop the technology.

In February the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor company said it would cut 600 jobs to lower costs.