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Thread: SA opts out of Global Nuclear Energy Partnership

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    just me duncan drennan's Avatar
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    SA opts out of Global Nuclear Energy Partnership

    SA has decided not to sign the GNEP agreement, which I think is an excellent decision, based on the info in the article.

    Sonjica said that under the GNEP, "fuel would be distributed" to countries but South Africa "has taken a decision to beneficiate its minerals ... in other words to end-value the minerals in South Africa and that would include uranium."

    Exporting uranium only to get it back refined, instead of enriching it in South Africa, would be "in conflict with our national policy", she said.

    US official Will Tobey told reporters that it was wrong to say the GNEP would stop nations from doing anything since "GNEP states voluntarily join for their benefit. No one is asking a state to give up its rights."

    But Tobey, deputy administrator for defence nuclear non-proliferation at the US national nuclear security administration, said "it wouldn't make sense to do both," that is to join GNEP and still develop an indigenous uranium enrichment programme.

    Full article on M&G Online
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    Quote Originally Posted by dsd View Post
    Exporting uranium only to get it back refined, instead of enriching it in South Africa, would be "in conflict with our national policy", she said.
    Really? It has never been against the national policy to export iron ore and importing steel back in again... why should uranium be any different? All that talk about a steel factory at Saldanha... just talk.

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    Quote Originally Posted by leuce View Post
    Really? It has never been against the national policy to export iron ore and importing steel back in again... why should uranium be any different? All that talk about a steel factory at Saldanha... just talk.
    Or even better, export that raw iron ore as Audi A4's etc.
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    I did a quick Google, and here is some info on the DME's mineral beneficiation policy.
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    Well frankly it's about time! It makes way more sense for us to be exporting the finished product ready for use - especially when we're talking non-weapon grade beneficiated uranium.

    But the thing that struck me most was the swing on nuclear energy as a whole. Nuclear energy used to be environmental enemy no.1 - with Greenpeace folks doing all kinds of stunts.

    Now it's a saviour for the environment.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave A View Post
    But the thing that struck me most was the swing on nuclear energy as a whole. Nuclear energy used to be environmental enemy no.1 - with Greenpeace folks doing all kinds of stunts.

    Now it's a saviour for the environment.
    Yes, this is quite a twist hey? A lot of people have been punting nuclear as it is cleaner etc. for a while, but only now is there a shift. I'd say in started in the USA with some policy changes there, and slowly people are changing their perspective. There is still a lot of negativity towards it (wait for the protests about the new power station Eskom is building), but it is one of the few viable options.

    In SA we have a lot of "dirty" power - pretty much exclusively coal fired plants, so nuclear should reduce CO2 emissions significantly.

    What I wonder is this: these days carbon dioxide is the enemy - will we look back on this in a similar way as we are now looking back on nuclear power?
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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    I think this article drives home the point about adding value (beneficiation) in a more general way:

    African countries must diversify their economies in order to fight poverty, the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (Unido) said on Tuesday.

    "It is clear that we cannot fight poverty without creating wealth. We must diversify our economies. It is critical for job creation and poverty alleviation," Unido director general Dr Kandeh Yumkella said at the first session of a gathering of African Union trade and industry ministers.

    The conference brought together trade and industry ministers from various African countries and was being hosted by South Africa at Gallagher Estate in Midrand. It is aimed at developing a programme to accelerate the industrialisation of the African continent.

    "We know that many of our countries are raw-material dependent ... we must look at how to add to the value of raw materials by supplying our own market with finished products," said African Union commissioner Elisabeth Tankeu.
    full story from M&G here
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    just me duncan drennan's Avatar
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    Not directly related to beneficiation, but I'm sure the PBMR played a role in the decision making process.

    Manuel said the truth of the matter is that nowhere in the world is safe nuclear technology available. “If you want it, part of what you have to work with are the designs of nuclear engineers, but a lot of it is untested.”

    He said a prototype would have to be built, but “if you want to prototype, somebody has to pay for it. We are advised that progress in this area in South Africa is quite unprece*dented in the world.

    “We don’t want to take any risks, but I think we understand that we can’t rely on fossil fuels in perpetuity. Some changes at the scale of the low-cost electricity that we have become accustomed to in this country -- something at that scale -- will need to be done.

    “A few wind farms and so on are not going to generate it. Somebody has to bell the cat and that’s what this process is about.”

    Read the full article on M&G Online
    Personally, I think the PBMR development that is going on here is excellent for the country from a number of perspectives. We get out own reactors with quick setup time and low cost to performance, as well as the opportunity to sell them all over the world (if things work out, we definitely will).

    As a taxpayer, I'm quite willing to foot the bill for this. Heck, I'd even buy shares if they were available (are they?)
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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    A really interesting article. Thanks, Duncan.

    Reading it, perhaps the risk is less in the technology and more in the competition.
    The PBMR has completed a set of tests of its technology and is setting up facilities to test other parts of its process, but only in 2014, when its development plant is complete, will its technology have been tested at scale.

    China is, in the meantime, developing its own PBMR facility and has a 3MW research reactor in Beijing. PBMR insiders say the South African technology is superior and is the world’s recognised market leader. They say China is unlikely to be a real competitor as it will have its hands full supplying its domestic market with these reactors.

    Necsa’s Adam says a risk the PBMR project faces is that many potential international clients might have committed themselves to conventional nuclear plants by the time the PBMR is commercially available.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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