The South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa) is looking for a strategic equity partner for its speciality fluorochemical products manufacturing subsidiary Pelchem. It is also planning to expand its engineering and manufacturing division (not subsidiary) Pelindaba Enterprises.
Pelchem manufactures key inputs for the petrochemical, automotive, domestic products and cosmetics industries, among others. "It is currently making a loss," Necsa Group CEO Phumzile Tshelane told Engineering News Online on Friday.
"We are looking for a strategic partner who can bring in both commercial and additional technical expertise. We would like to obtain such a partner as soon as possible."
The partner could be a local or overseas company. As yet, there is no short-list of potential partners, but Tshelane expects to have such a short-list by the end of November. "We'll formally announce the process in the next month or so."
Necsa keeps certain units of Pelchem operating, despite them being loss-makers, in order to preserve national technological capabilities. "If we shut down these units, Pelchem becomes profitable," he pointed out. "But the country would lose its capability in complete technology sectors. It is the duty of Necsa to preserve these technologies, as well as make money."
As for Pelindaba Enterprises, that does make a profit. But, because it is a division and not a subsidiary, the exact size of that profit has not yet been calculated. "But we will soon do so."
The division manufactures a significant range of products, to fully-certified nuclear standards. These include (but are not limited to) pressure vessels, piping systems, uranium hexafluoride cylinders, and nuclear fresh fuel and spent fuel containers.
The company supplies Eskom, and not just for the Koeberg nuclear power plant. It has also supplied components to the new Medupi coal-fired power station. Furthermore it exports to Russia and South Korea.
"Pelindaba Enterprises expands as it wins tenders," he explained. "We have the potential to supply another client in another country. This is potentially a big order."
"Domestically, we plan for it to be the incubator of the localisation of the new nuclear energy build programme," he highlighted. In a press conference, he also pointed out that the division had a fully nuclear certified design competence "that is growing".