HomeEnergy MineralsSA may limit uranium exports

SA may limit uranium exports

Koeberg nuclear power
station in the
Western Cape
Pretoria, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 25 August 2008 – South Africa – which has the biggest uranium reserves in Africa and holds 7% of the world’s uranium reserves – may cut down on its exports of the metal in order to ensure sufficient supply of fuel for its existing and planned nuclear power plants.
In an interview with Bloomberg News in the South African capital, Department of Minerals and Energy spokesman Bheki Khumalo confirmed that Minerals and Energy Minister Buyelwa Sonjica should approve the policy within the next few weeks, but he declined to give any further details.

“There will be some regulations – one of the ways of ensuring sufficient supply will be to regulate the rate of export of uranium in the medium term,” he said, without defining what he meant by the medium term.

Bloomberg News reports that state-run Eskom Holdings Limited, which supplies about 95% of the country’s power, plans to build nuclear plants to generate an additional 18 000 megawatts of electricity by 2025 to help overcome future power shortages in South Africa.

The country currently has just one nuclear plant – Koeberg, near Cape Town – which has the capacity to produce 1 800 megawatts of power. If one combines coal, wind, hydro and gas-fired power plants, Eskom will be doubling its total capacity to 80 000 megawatts by 2025.

“The government needs to ensure that, going forward, there will be sufficient uranium for the life of Eskom’s plants,” Khumalo emphasised. “And we are not only looking at sourcing locally, but are also looking at the region.”

Bloomberg points out that neighboring Namibia mines uranium, while a mine for the metal is also planned for Malawi, and Zimbabwe and Zambia also have known uranium deposits.

Uranium One Incorporated is the biggest miner of the metal in South Africa, while First Uranium Corporation and gold producers AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields Limited and Harmony Gold currently recover, or are considering recovering, uranium from mine waste.