In a groundbreaking discussion at the Mining Indaba in Cape Town, Stratek Global’s Chairman Kelvin Kemm, asserted that South Africa is poised to become a nuclear reactor exporting nation. Highlighting the country’s status as the first to develop a commercial Small Modular Reactor (SMR), Kemm unveiled the HTMR-100, positioning South Africa as a global leader in SMR development.
The HTMR-100 is designed for deployment in remote areas, offering unique versatility by not requiring a large body of water for cooling, thanks to its helium gas cooling system, a deliberate design choice tailored for African conditions. This private venture aims to make these reactors affordable and accessible to governments, provinces, municipalities, and private entities, including mining companies. Kemm revealed that Stratek Global is in advanced discussions with foreign funders, with plans to raise R10 billion privately, supported by foundation agreements already signed with multiple companies.
Furthermore, Kemm urged both private enterprises and the government to demonstrate real leadership by supporting this venture, emphasising the need to move beyond mere statements about advancing the country’s electricity supply. He stressed the urgency of the situation, as a dozen African countries have formally expressed their intention to pursue a nuclear future.
Dispelling the myth that nuclear power is only viable for large, wealthy countries, Kemm underscored the affordability and operability of SMRs for any African nation. However, he raised concerns about the alarming rate at which South African nuclear professionals are being recruited by foreign countries, posing a risk to the nation’s expertise and the potential to become a nuclear reactor exporter.
Kemm emphasised that South Africa’s export of the HTMR-100 does not exclude collaboration on building larger nuclear reactors with foreign partners. While an SMR produces 35 megawatts, significantly less than large reactors like those at Koeberg (1400 megawatts), it marks a pivotal step towards leveraging South Africa’s nuclear expertise on the global stage. The call for leadership resonates as a plea to seize the opportunity and avoid the loss of valuable talent to other nations.