POWER GENERATION: French nuclear group Areva built the two nuclear reactors in operation on the Koeberg site in the Western Cape.
POWER GENERATION: French nuclear group Areva built the two nuclear reactors in operation on the Koeberg site in the Western Cape.

THE government, which has already taken a decision on its nuclear build programme, is moving another step forward by talking to local companies that have the potential to contribute to the construction of power plants.

It has already signed co-operation agreements on nuclear energy with Russia, China, France and South Korea and seems determined to push ahead with the project.

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said on Tuesday the aim of the talks was to ensure the highest possible degree of local content in the programme, if and when a decision was taken to embark upon it. The department was working on this with the Nuclear Industry Association of SA.

"There are a group of companies in the association which are working towards acquiring the international qualifications needed to work on nuclear build," Mr Davies told members of Parliament’s trade and industry committee.

"You can rest assured that when and if a decision is taken about the procurement of nuclear power facilities, we as a department will be working to get a high level of localisation in the inputs involved," he said.

Local companies could also be involved in supplying elements such as boilers and other equipment that did not require international certification.

Mr Davies told MPs his department was strictly enforcing the legal requirement that all organs of state procure the products designated to be bought locally and to have a minimum percentage of local content. The auditor-general would assess compliance with this obligation during audits.

Closer monitoring of the programme was needed to flush out misrepresentation by companies of their local content status.

The minister said work was at an advanced stage for designating more products, including transformers, building and construction materials and rail signalling equipment and components.

The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) is the verification agency for local content and has developed a technical specification with which bidders for government contracts will have to comply.