May 27, 2008 / 3:34 AM / 12 years ago

Mitsubishi Heavy mulls stake in S.A. nuclear project

TOKYO, May 27 (Reuters) - Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd (7011.T) said on Tuesday it was considering South Africa’s request to take a stake in the company that is developing the country’s advanced nuclear reactors.

“The South African government last year expressed a hope that Mitsubishi would take a stake in PBMR (Pebble Bed Modular Reactor Ltd)”, said a spokesman for Mitsubishi Heavy, Japan’s biggest machinery company.

“We have been considering the proposal, but nothing has been decided.”

The next-generation reactors feature a design that is supposed to dramatically improve safety and efficiency, although environmentalists say it is unsafe and creates radioactive waste.

The high-temperature PBMR differs from conventional reactor technology because the radioactive material is sealed in small “pebbles”.

PBMR Ltd is partially owned by U.S.-based Westinghouse Electric, a unit of Mitsubishi rival Toshiba Corp (6502.T).

South Africa is currently testing elements of the new reactor and wants to build 24-30 PBMR reactors for its own energy needs, in the face of tight power supplies.

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