Nuclear industry body expresses support for Minerals Resources and Energy Minister
CREAMER MEDIA SENIOR DEPUTY EDITOR
The Nuclear Industry Association of South Africa (Niasa) announced on Wednesday that it welcomed the recent (July 11) budget speech by Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe. In his speech the Minister reaffirmed that nuclear power had a place in the country’s energy mix.
“To say nuclear energy is too expensive is misleading,” said Mantashe, (a comment quoted by Niasa). “The approach to South Africa’s energy sector should be one of balancing all the different sources together.”
This, the association affirmed, was also the position that it held. It would not be wise to disregard any source of energy, given the country’s “unique developmental needs”. “Niasa applauds the inclusive approach being take by the Minister regarding the country’s energy mix.”
The association also pointed out that Mantashe had said that the country’s only nuclear power plant, Koeberg (near Cape Town), was currently producing the country’s most cost-effective electricity. Niasa further noted that the Minister had added that the Koeberg plant was “getting on in life” but that the Government planned to extend its lifespan.
In addition, the association observed, the Mantashe had given attention to the wider role of nuclear technology. “Nuclear use goes well beyond just the use of energy. Part of it can also be used for cancer treatment,” Niasa quoted him as saying.
The association cited the fact that South Africa was one of the world’s top three medical radioisotope producers, with these radioisotopes being used both locally and internationally for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. These radioisotopes were produced by NTP Radioisotopes, a subsidiary of the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation.
Niasa also cited Mantashe’s speech to the 30th Technical Working Group meeting of the African Regional Cooperative Agreement for Research, Development and Training related to Nuclear Science and Technology. In this, the Minister expressed dismay at the extended halt of operations at NTP, because of operational concerns. (NTP resumed production at the end of June.) He also assured that he would prioritise the issues at NTP so as to restore its global competitiveness, adding that there were safety management lessons to be learned.
“Niasa pledges its support to the Minister’s efforts to grow the nuclear industry so that once again it can play its part in advancing the nation’s development goals,” was the conclusion of the association’s statement.