October 8, 2011 / 12:00 PM / 8 years ago

S.Africa's govt says no decision yet on nuclear contract

JOHANNESBURG, Oct 8 (Reuters) - The South African government on Saturday said it has not made a decision yet on the number of nuclear power stations that will be built or which vendors would be used for such projects.

The department of energy released a statement responding to a Mail & Guardian article that said government would solicit bids worth 1.1 trillion rand ($137.5 billion) for construction of six plants.

“Currently the government has not selected any design, vendor nor suppliers of the nuclear power plants. No decision has been made on the actual number of power plants,” the energy department said.

Energy department spokesman Ndivhuwo Khangale would not comment on how much money would be spent on the nuclear reactors.

“Until cabinet has pronounced on this we cannot say anything about money. We’d be speculating unnecessarily,” Khangale said.

South Africa operates the continent’s only nuclear power plant, near Cape Town. A previous tender for a new nuclear plant was scrapped in 2008 due to financial woes at state-run utility Eskom.

The ministry would like to provide a total of 9,600 megawatts or about a quarter of the current supply, but has not decided what form this will be in.

A power supply crisis in 2008 shut mines for days and cost South Africa billions of dollars in lost output. New coal-fired plants are also being built and power tariffs are rising steeply to fund such projects, hurting consumers and squeezing the profits of power-intensive mines and other industries. ($1 = 8.00 South African Rand) (Reporting by Phumza Macanda; Editing by Alison Birrane)

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