Feb 23, 2007
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Perlman: The preferred bidder for South Africa’s second nuclear power station is to be announced before April.
Creamer: We see that the government has declared uranium a strategic mineral. We also see that there is going to be a hydrofluoric acid plant in Richards Bay. That hydrofluoric acid is used in the enrichment of uranium, which South Africa is thinking of expanding and, of course, that boosts the mining activity both on the uranium side and the fluorspar side, because fluorspar miners like Metorex and Sallies can get into active mining expansions with all this nuclear promise. Then we have got the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor, which is still in the longer term picture, about eight years away from commercial activity, which has a tremendous export potential if we can prove the PBMR concept in South Africa and, we are looking to about 4 000 to 5 000 MW worth. Many people have said that PBMR could be to South Africa what Boeing is the US, it is almost like being able export the equivalent of a big passenger aircraft in terms of revenue and the world is needing that sort of pocket size of nuclear power that PBMR’s modular format offers.
Perlman: Martin, huge amount of work to be done in the African continent with regard to infrastructure. I believe people are talking about some sort of global partnership that might make this go a bit quicker.
Creamer: A global partnership to build Africa’s infrastructure has been mooted. Being considered is something similar to what took place when the World Bank created to rebuild Europe’s infrastructure. We see a scramble for resources in Africa. We see big activity by the Canadians, Australians, South Africans and the British. The feeling is now that the biggest disincentives to doing business in South Africa is the lack of infrastructure and the time has come for a global partnership where there is proper co-ordination. Were a World Bank type body to be formed, expenditure could be scaled-up and infrastructure development can be properly dealt with. There could be reciprocity from the mining companies that are now scrambling for resources. Not only is demand coming from China but China is also now directly involved in mining in Africa. What is envisaged is a World Bank type global partnership on physical infrastructure for Africa and the possibility of a public private partnership. You see many of the mining companies having to create the energy and water infrastructure themselves. Now, Bobby Godsell, CEO of AngloGold Ashanti, has mooted this idea of a global partnership for infrastructure in Africa.
Perlman: We started off at the laboratories, went down the rapid-rail track and all the way hydropower in the Free State. Always an interesting journey with Martin Creamer. Thanks very much. Martin Creamer is publishing editor of Engineering News and Mining Weekly, he’ll be back with us at the same time next week.
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