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Why explore for uranium in South Africa?

South Africa is a county with a very long mining history and a well defined system for environmental permitting and development approval. Mining is the most important export earner for South Africa which has an active and growing uranium mining industry.

All uranium produced is sold through the South African Government providing a guaranteed buyer.

South Africa has two nuclear reactors generating 6% of its power and the Government is committed to a future involving nuclear energy. Budget funding for the construction of a demonstration pebble bed reactor was given in 2004.

Electricity consumption in South Africa has been growing rapidly since 1980 and the country is part of the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP), with extensive interconnections. Total generating capacity in the region is 49.8 GWe, of which 41.3 GWe is South African, mostly coal-fired and largely under the control of the state utility Eskom. Early in 200&, demand in South Africa is uncomfortably close to this causing rolling blackouts or "load shedding" measures. Some 94% comes from coal-fired plants and in 2006, 4.4% or 10 billion kWh - was from nuclear.

Eskom supplies about 95% of South Africa's electricity and more than 60% of Africa's. Early in 2008 regional electricity demand is exceeding supply capacity, so that SA power exports been curtailed while domestic demand is being managed by major cutbacks in industrial use, expected to lead to a significant decline in economic growth.

South Africa's main coal resources are in the north-east, while much of the load is on the the coast near Cape Town and Durban. Moving either coal or electricity long distance is inefficient, so it was decided in the mid 1970s to build some 2000 MWe of nuclear capacity at Koeberg near Cape Town.

Early in 2007 the Eskom board approved a plan to boost output to80 GWe by 2025, including construction of 20 GWe of nuclear capacity so that nuclear contribution to power would rise from 6% to more than 25% and coal's contribution would fall from a present 87% to below 70%. The new program will start with up 10 4 GWe of power capacity to be built from 2009-10, with the first unit commissioned in 2016.

The Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa (Necsa) expects nuclear capacity to increase to about 27 GWe, supplying 30% of electricity, by 2030, including 12 new large PWR (pressurised water reactors) units and an initial set of 24 PBMR's (pebble bed modular reactor).