With the South African build is set to cost anywhere up to R1-trillion, that would mean the same cost (adjusted upward with inflation) would have to be born near the end of this century, he says. “Except then you will have no income coming in. Just the cost of powering the reactors while you wind down operations. And the endless cost of looking after the nuclear waste.”
“This is a dying industry and there are just too many unanswered questions for South Africa to go down this path. Except we know the element of corruption can always be present in the nuclear industry,”
Nuclear a ‘technology of the past‘, Mail & Guardian, 27 JUL 2015 SIPHO KINGS A Russian nuclear activist has labelled South Africa’s pursuit of new nuclear capacity – with Russian support – as “naive” and advised against it. “Nuclear is not technology of the future. This is technology of the past, of the Cold War.” This is the conclusion Vladimir Slivyak, of the Russian environmental group Ecodefense, reaches when talking about nuclear technology. Continue reading
In Congo, silence surrounds forgotten mine that fuelled first atom bombs, Aljazeera America
The US sourced uranium for the weapons used on Japan from Shinkolobwe; though the site is closed, locals mine illegally July 23, 2015 by Tom Zoellner One of the manifest ironies of the nuclear age is just how primitive it all is. A complicated war was brought to an end within a week by a pair of indiscriminate hammer blows. The logic behind the next 45 years of Cold War military strategy — hit us and we both die — was as simplistic as it was problematic. And driving everything was a bomb fashioned out of dirt.
A particular kind of dirt, of course, and one that required a lavish industrial process before it could be made into a fissile device. That dirt is uranium, and it lies all around the world in abundant quantities. A place where it was concentrated to levels of freakish purity is now just a curious footnote of the nuclear age, but at one time, it was treated with intense secrecy.
Shinkolobwe was a small settlement in the Katanga province of what was then the Belgian Congo……….
The mine produced uranium for U.S. nuclear weapons until 1960, when enough uranium mines had opened up in the American Southwest to meet the nuclear hunger, and Shinkolobwe was closed. The Belgians poured concrete down the mineshaft and closed off the pit.
I visited Shinkolobwe in 2007, 120 miles from the city of Lubumbashi over disintegrating roads through the rain forest. A permit to go there cost $80, payable to a member of the presidential staff. We had to walk the last several kilometers until we reached a decrepit fence overgrown with vines.
Sharp’s hill had given way to an immense pit, which had been chewed over for decades by local freelance miners. The mineshaft the Belgians built and then filled with concrete had been dug away to a depth of about 100 feet and fallen over. The scene was disquietingly peaceful. Though we had been told it was heavily guarded, no soldiers or police were there to challenge us.
The birthplace of the Bomb has been forgotten by the outside world but not by everyone. Teams of Congolese miners kept slipping inside the old pit to dig out residual supplies of copper and cobalt, which they sell on the black market. There have been persistent rumors — and some occasional instances — of local businessmen selling uranium to outside parties. There is also evidence that some of the Shinkolobwe uranium has found its way into Iranian centrifuges, though this remains publicly unconfirmed by Western intelligence agencies…….http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/7/23/in-congo-silence-surrounds-forgotten-mine-that-fueled-first-atomic-bombs.html
Ugly Australians, like Paladin Energy, linked to 100s of deaths in uranium mining in Malawi and Namibia
There is a very strong perception that when Australian mining companies come here they take every advantage of regulatory and compliance monitoring weaknesses, and of the huge disparity in power between themselves and affected communities, and aim to get away with things they wouldn’t even think of trying in Australia,”
Australian miners linked to hundreds of deaths, injuries in Africa, SMH, July 11, 2015 -Will FitzgibbonAustralian mining companies are linked to hundreds of deaths and injuries in Africa, which can go unreported at home. Some of the Australian Securities Exchange-listed companies include state governments as shareholders. One company recorded 38 worker deaths over an eleven-year period.
In Malawi, litigation continues against Paladin Africa Limited, a subsidiary of Perth-based Paladin Energy, and its subcontractor after an explosion disfigured one worker with such heat that his skin shattered when touched by rescuers. Two others died in the same incident.
Other allegations include employees in South Africa hacking a woman with a machete and Malian police killing two protesters after a mine worker reportedly asked authorities to dislodge a barricade on the road to the mine.
An investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, in collaboration with 13 African reporters, uncovered locally-filed lawsuits, violent protests and community petitions criticising some Australian companies. Continue reading
South Africa has concluded similar pacts with China, France, the US, Japan and South Korea.
“There are serious questions that need to be answered as to whether South Africa is able to finance this programme and how any investment would have to be repaid,
Will Putin pay for SA’s $100bn nuclear plan?, Mail & Guardian, 06 JUL 2015 11:03 MIKE COHEN The awarding of contracts to build SA’s nuclear plants is nearing. Who will pay for the big project? Russia is seen as the frontrunner to win the right to build South African nuclear power plants that may be worth as much as $100-billion. With a six-month deadline to award contracts, who’s going to pay for the country’s biggest project yet remains a mystery.
Price-tag estimates for as many as eight reactors generating 9 600 megawatts, which the government wants to begin operating from 2023 and complete by 2029, range from $37-billion to $100-billion. Bids are due to start this quarter, with Russia’s Rosatom seen as a leader. Areva, EDF, Toshiba’s Westinghouse Electric, China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding and Korea Electric Power have also shown interest.
The planned investment comes as the government battles to fend off a junk-grade credit rating and the Treasury seeks to rein in the budget deficit. Proceeding with the nuclear plants could result in a large increase in public debt, the International Monetary Fund warned in a report on June 24.
“There appears to be a simple-minded assumption that countries like China or Russia will provide cheap plants and offer finance,” Steve Thomas, professor of energy policy at the University of Greenwich in the UK, who has monitored South Africa’s nuclear plans since 1997, said in a phone interview on June 24. “That’s an illusion.” Continue reading
Cape Town – South Africa’s inking of two memoranda of understanding with Russia’s state nuclear energy company Rosatom made it clear a deal for a new reactor was already in the pipeline despite government’s denials, the Democratic Alliance said on Friday.
DA energy spokesman Gordon Mackay said he had written to Energy minister Tina Joemat-Petterson following Thursday’s announcement of the agreement on the sidelines of the Brics summit in the southern Russian city of Ufa to demand that she release further details of it.
“That these MOUs reportedly speak of cooperation in order to provide training for five categories of specialists for the South African nuclear industry is the clearest indication yet that Rosatom is the preferred bidder,” Mackay said
“Signing MOUs of this nature, while a competitive bid process is underway, smacks of gross impropriety on behalf of Minister Joemat-Pettersson and can be seen as nothing more than a crude attempt by the Zuma administration to bolster Rosatom’s bid over potential rivals.”
Government on Thursday denied Russia was the preferred bidder for a deal that would increase South Africa’s nuclear power capacity………http://www.iol.co.za/business/news/da-slams-nuclear-deal-1.1883599#.VaBBpF-qpHw
[Paladin’s] Langer Heinrich Uranium mine[Namibia] …
Craton Mining and Exploration [copper] is a subsidiary of Australian-based International Base Metals…..
Rio Tinto owns Rössing Uranium Mine…
[Australian] Deep Yellow Limited (DYL) the Aussinanis uranium project.
Aussies in toxic trail By Shinovene Immanuel, Ndanki Kahiurika 10 July 15 http://www.namibian.com.na/indexx.php?id=28936&page_type=story_detail&category_id=1#sthash.TJSxEgQV.P3bN2nwk.uxfs&st_refDomain=blogs.icerocket.com&st_refQuery=/search?tab=buzz&fr=h&q=uranium+Australia NAMIBIA, a mining frontier for decades, continues to struggle with mining companies which subject workers to dangerous working conditions.
What ICIJ uncovered and pieced together suggests a troubling track record on the part of Australian companies in the rush for Africa’s minerals, including practices that would be impermissible, even unthinkable, in Australia and other parts of the developed world.
ICIJ found that, at the end of 2014, there were more than 150 Australian-listed active mining companies with recorded properties in Africa. Other estimates, using different criteria, put the number even higher.
Australian companies have 49 mining licences in Namibia; two of those companies are operational.
Even though Australian firms run successful mining companies which contribute to Namibia’s economy and workplace conditions have improved compared to two decades ago, there are still questions about the safety of workers.
Thousands of people, including village chiefs, former employees, human rights defenders and government agencies across Africa have taken Australian companies, their subsidiaries and their contractors to court for alleged negligence, unfair dismissal and eviction or pollution, according to court submissions and judgements unearthed from more than a dozen countries.
Australian miner accused of dodging tax in world’s poorest country, The Age, July 11, 2015 –Heath Aston Political reporter Tax avoidance tactics of multinational companies have angered Australians, but an Australian mining firm used such methods in Malawi. Tax avoidance tactics of multinational companies have angered the public and placed pressure on the Abbott government to prevent profits being exported offshore.
But an Australian uranium miner is defending the use of identical methods to reduce its tax bill in the world’s poorest country, Malawi.
Between 2009 and 2014, Paladin Energy moved $US183 million out of Malawi to a holding company in the Netherlands and then on to Australia.
A 15-page report by London-based ActionAid has found the Dutch transfers and a special royalties deal – in which Malawi’s mining minister agreed to drop the initial tax rate applied to the uranium mine from 5 per cent to 1.5 per cent – have cost the Malawi public $US43 million.
In Africa’s poorest nation, where per capita GDP is just $US226 a year and life expectancy 55, that money could provide the equivalent of 39,000 new teachers or 17,000 nurses, according to the aid group……..
Paladin’s tax-free transfers to the Netherlands were a combination of management fees and interest payments on loans initiated in Australia. The company loaded its African subsidiary up with huge debts, leaving the Kayelekera uranium mine in northern Malawi with an 80:20 debt to equity ratio – a financing structure known as “thin capitalisation”.
The Dutch structure allowed Paladin to avoid paying a 15 per cent withholding tax to the Malawi government due to a tax treaty between Malawi and the Netherlands which expired in 2014, saving the company $US7.3 million. Paladin closed the mine in February 2014, citing a “sustained low uranium price”.
ActionAid has accused the company of “treaty shopping” and shortchanging the Malawi people. The country’s nursing ranks have the equivalent of four nurses to every 100 in Australia, despite 10 per cent of Malawi’s population being infected with HIV/AIDS……..http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/australian-miner-accused-of-dodging-tax-in-worlds-poorest-country-20150710-gi6uzv.html
Nuclear deal – 200 South Africans to be “educated” during excursions to Russia http://www.biznews.com/briefs/2015/07/09/nuclear-deal-200-south-africans-to-be-educated-during-excursions-to-russia/ ALEC HOGG JULY 9, 2015 Cape Town – The Department of Energy announced in a statement on Thursday that it has signed two memoranda of understanding with Russian state nuclear energy corporation Rosatom at the 7th summit of the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries in the Russian city of Ufa.
According to the first document, Russia and South Africa aim to implement several joint projects for education in the nuclear power industry.
The countries will cooperate to provide training for five categories of specialists for the South African nuclear industry: nuclear power plant personnel, engineers and construction workers, staff for operations not related to the power industry, personnel for nuclear infrastructure, students and teachers.
There will also be education programmes for 200 South African candidates at Russian universities and educational organisations. This memorandum stipulates the development of educational materials and scientific literature on nuclear power, student exchange programmes for students of various levels of training, organisation of internships and summer courses, student competitions and teacher training.
The second memorandum signed in Ufa stipulates joint efforts of the parties to promote nuclear power in South Africa, increasing the awareness of local residents of modern nuclear technologies used in the power industry and in other industries, and ensuring public acceptance of nuclear power.
In particular, the parties have agreed to work out a plan for the implementation of a joint communication programme to be launched in South Africa. This will involve the organisation of round tables and other events aimed at promoting nuclear power and modern nuclear technologies.
A nuclear energy information centre in South Africa is also under consideration. “The parties seek to exchange information and best practices in the nuclear industry by organising working visits and international conferences and exhibitions,” said the Department of Energy. Source: http://www.fin24.com/Economy/Rosatom-seeks-to-educate-SA-on-nuclear-power-20150709
Uyo — The Akwa Ibom State Leaders Caucus has rejected plans by the Nigerian Atomic Energy Commission (NAEC) to site a Nuclear Power plant in Itu local Government Area of the state. The group attributed their rejection of the Nuclear Power plant to disastrous consequences that failure of nuclear plants had brought in other parts of the world.
The leaders’ caucus questioned why Nigeria, which they said had a perennial incompetence in matters of safety and security, could venture into such a risky project, while countries with known competences, like Germany, Italy, USA, Russia and Japan are shutting down such plants.
Nigeria: Community leaders oppose nuclear plant site, Star Africa, APA July 3, 2015 The Leaders Caucus of the Akwa Ibom State in south-eastern Nigeria has rejected plans by the Nigerian Atomic Energy Commission (NAEC) to site nuclear power plant in Itu Local Government Area of the state.
He wondered what gave Nigeria, where perennial incompetence in matters of safety and security has become legendary, the impetus to venture into such a risky project, while countries with known competences like Germany, Italy, US, Russia and Japan are shutting down such plants.
Okon said that gambling with such risky issue by Nigeria was a clear and deliberate invitation to disaster of monumental proportions.
Declaring Akwa Ibom as grossly unsuitable for such projects, the leaders noted that the location of nuclear plants all over the world is done far away from human habitation, noting that Akwa Ibom is small and compact, even as there is no distance across the state that is beyond 50km……….http://en.starafrica.com/news/nigeria-community-leaders-oppose-nuclear-plant-site.html
NGO warns FG That Setting up a nuclear power plant in Nigeria would be suicidal, FunGrade, 29 June 15
Mr Nnimmo Bassey, the Director, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), said setting up a nuclear plant in Nigeria would be suicidal given the high level of operational challenges it would face. Bassey said this in Abuja while presenting a paper titled: “Risks and deaths as workers generate wealth’’ organised by HOMEF’s Sustainability Academy on Health and the Extractive Sector Workers. The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the programme was sponsored by the UNDP and the Federal Ministry of Environment in collaboration with HOMEF. He said that the setting up of a nuclear plant was suicidal because of the high technical and environmental demand associated with handling radioactive materials. “Uranium and nuclear power plants are inseparable. ”
Nigeria has found it difficult to run simple hydroelectric and thermal power plants. “It would be suicidal to install nuclear power plants here,’’ Bassey said. The director said the proposal to site such a facility in Akwa Ibom would not be advisable because of the serious environmental implication. “And to think of locating one in Akwa Ibom State is nothing but adding insult to injury in an already highly polluted Niger Delta. “It will also be a time bomb set against the workers,’’ he said. Bassey said that the sustainability academy was aimed at highlighting the fact that workers and communities were at the frontlines of exposure to toxic chemicals that often result in fatalities. The director further said that more than 2.3 million workers worldwide had been exposed to work-related diseases or accidents annually. He said that more than one million extractive industries workers die annually of toxic chemical across the globe.
The South African government has said it will not go ahead with nuclear power if the expected construction cost is more than $6500/kW, equivalent to about R130bn per reactor. However, the latest cost estimates are about 25% higher than this. This means that if the South African government sticks to its promise, the tender will fail.
Why South Africa should steer clear of nuclear, By Steve Thomas, Professor of Energy Policy at University of Greenwich Business Tech By The Conversation June
21, 2015 It would be sensible to acknowledge that a nuclear programme is not viable for resolving South Africa’s energy crisis. Rather, the country should be focusing its attention on how to end electricity blackouts and speed up energy efficiency and renewable energy programmes.
In addition, nuclear power entails a different but also serious set of risks to climate change. These include the risk of reactor accidents, the danger of weapons proliferation and the hazards of radioactive waste……
Price of nuclear
Uganda set for Africa’s largest privately owned solar plant, Business Day, BY MATT SMITH, JUNE 09 2015, DUBAI — Access Infra Africa, a Dubai-based company, will launch what it says will be Africa’s largest privately owned solar plant in Uganda this year, part of plans to develop electricity projects in 17 African countries, mainly based on renewable energy…….. http://www.bdlive.co.za/africa/africanbusiness/2015/06/09/uganda-set-for-africas-largest-privately-owned-solar-plant?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=post&utm_term=Africa%20big%20solar&utm_campaign=Climate&__surl__=IgD8d&__ots__=1434878107303&__step__=1
Uranium mining town hopes long turned to dust, Mail & Guardian 05 DEC 2014 PHILLIP DE WET Dominionville residents expected a boom town when Shiva Uranium foretold promises of riches, but white poverty and black despair remain years later. The people of Dominionville in North West have seen it before, and those who were not around have heard the stories. The residents tell it among themselves like a sort of fairy tale – the pre-Disney kind, full of darkness and foreboding – warning against hope.
In 2006, it was Uranium One, they say, that sold the idea that riches would return to their town. In Canada and Europe, the company sold the story of the rich shafts – almost within sight of the residents – and they sold it well.
The people of Dominionville, more than half resigned to the idea that the tide would never turn their way again, read the articles about hundreds of millions of dollars being poured into the company, and dared to dream……
That was so many years ago that the signboards for the Shiva Uranium mines have been bleached almost illegible by the sun. As yet, the money has not materialised. Dominionville barely clings on, a place of white poverty and black despair……http://mg.co.za/article/2014-12-04-uranium-mining-towns-hopes-long-turned-to-dust
Government’s nuclear cost muddle http://www.bdlive.co.za/opinion/letters/2015/06/03/letter-governments-nuclear-cost-muddle Steve Thomas, Professor of Energy Policy, Public Services International Research Unit, University of Greenwich JUNE 03 2015, THE SOUTH AFRICAN NUCLEAR ENERGY CORPORATION’S XOLISA MABHONGO CLAIMS THAT “SOUTH AFRICAN PROFESSIONALS DID NOT MAKE FOOLISH ASSUMPTIONS, DO INACCURATE FINANCIAL CALCULATIONS AND GO INTO A CONSTRUCTION PLAN WITHOUT HAVING ACCURATE PROJECTIONS OF THE OUTCOME. THIS WOULD HAVE BEEN IRRESPONSIBLE” (NUCLEAR BUILD WILL POWER ECONOMIC GROWTH, MAY 29).
History suggests otherwise. When the pebble bed programme for SA to develop its own reactor design was announced in 1998, Eskom claimed a commercial reactor could be in operation by 2004 at a construction cost of less than $1,000 per kilowatt of capacity.
By 2010, commercial deployment of the pebble bed was estimated by Eskom to be 20 years away and the estimated cost of a demonstration plant had increased nearly 30-fold.
In 2006, a tender for new nuclear plants from the world market was launched with the expectation that a plant could be bought for $2,500/kW. The lowest bid was 150% more and the tender was abandoned in 2008 because it could not be financed.
Only two years later, a new attempt to order nuclear plants was launched with the publication of the first Integrated Resource Plan for the electricity industry. The prices bid in 2008 were ignored and it was assumed the cost would be only $3,500/kW. A year later, in 2011, the government had to admit this figure was far too low and revised it up to about $5,000/kW, still well below the prices bid in 2008 and below prevailing international price levels.
There are only two explanations for this continued gross underestimation of costs. Either the government is choosing to mislead the public about the actual costs, or it is far too gullible to the claims of nuclear sales people. Neither explanation reflects well on the government.
The government has promised that if the bid prices were higher than $6,500/kW, the tender would be abandoned. Given that prevailing prices in the world are now about $8,000/kW, if the government keeps its promise, the tender being launched this year is doomed to failure. It would be useful for Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson to confirm now whether the promise still applies and, if it does not, how much the state is prepared to pay.
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