Areva says it is ready to build 12 reactors in South Africa

Thu Jan 31, 9:07 AM ET
French nuclear giant Areva said on Thursday it was ready to build up to 12 next-generation power plants in South Africa, where massive electricity shortages shut down the key mining industry this month.

Areva said that in addition to an earlier plan to build two nuclear power plants in South Africa, announced earlier this month, it would now offer 10 more of its third generation systems through to 2025.

These would be built in partnership with construction and communication conglomerate Bouygues and electricity giant EDF of France, alongside South African engineering firm Aveng -- the same companies involved in the first two.

Areva said it was offering South Africa "a total partnership, covering the construction of EPR (third-generation) reactors and joint development of the South African nuclear industry."

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is due to visit South Africa on February 26-27 and will be accompanied, among others, by the head of Areva, Anne Lauvergeon.

South Africa, the continent's strongest economy, has been beset by power shortages in recent years as demand outpaced supply, with the problem hitting crisis proportions earlier this month as cuts forced the shutdown of the country's mining sector.

The government has been under fierce pressure because a 1998 white paper had warned that "timely steps will have to be taken to ensure that demand does not exceed available supply."