Uranium Mining: Today more than 15% of the world’s mined uranium is produced in Africa, and this percentage is expected to increase in the future. As uranium mining is associated with various negative externalities such as environmental pollution and deterioration of health, intensified uranium production in Africa can lead to a wide variety of hazards. Preventing and managing the multiple hazards is a complicated task which requires specific knowledge, efforts, and financial means available in all responsible stakeholders. It can be questioned if all of these factors are available in the African states which are allowing uranium mining operations on their land.
Today Namibia and Niger are the fourth- and fifth-largest producer of uranium in the world. Uranium mining in these countries – they belong to the poorest in the world – has not made anyone rich, but it brought manifold problems: from toxic tailings to polluted drinking water until horrible working conditions for the miners.
South Africa has two French (Framatome/AREVA) built reactors. They are both located at the Koeberg site east of Cape Town and supplied 14.7 TWh or 6.2 percent of the country’s electricity in 2014 (the historical maximum was 7.4 percent in 1989). The reactors are situated at the only operating nuclear power plant on the African continent. In its Integrated Resource Plan for Electricity the government concludes: “The nuclear decision can possibly be delayed. The revised demand projections suggest that no new nuclear base-load capacity is required until after 2025 (and for lower demand not until at earliest 2035) and that there are alternative options, such as regional hydro, that can fulfil the requirement and allow further exploration of the shale gas potential before prematurely committing to a technology that may be redundant if the electricity demand expectations do not materialise.”
United Arab Emirates have three reactors under construction. The orginal financing plan for the project was thought to include US-$ 10 billion from the Export-Import Bank of Korea, US-$ 2 billion from the Ex-Im Bank of the U.S., US-$ 6 billion from the government of Abu Dhabi, and US$2 billion from commercial banks. However, it is unclear what other financing sources will be needed for the project, as it is reported that the cost of the project has risen significantly, with the total cost of the plant including infrastructure and finance now expected to be about US-$32 billion, with others putting the cost of the project at
US-$ 40 billion.
Egypt has a long history with nuclear power, but till today no commercial reactor under construction. It started in 1954 as the first research reactor ETRR-1 was acquired from the Soviet Union in 1958. In 1964, a 150 MW nuclear power station was proposed, followed by a 600 MW proposal in the mid-1970s. Plans were developed for 10 reactors by the end of the century. Despite discussions with Chinese, French, German, and Russian suppliers, little specific development occurred for several decades. In October 2006, the Minister for Energy announced that a 1,000 MW reactor would be built, but this was later expanded to four reactors by 2025, with the first one coming on line in 2019. In early 2010, a legal framework was adopted to regulate and establish nuclear facilities; however, an international bidding process for the construction was postponed in February 2011 due to the political situation. Since then there have been various attempts and reports that a tender process would be restarted, all of which have come to nothing. In February 2015, Rosatom and Egypt’s Nuclear Power Plant Authority signed an agreement that would lead to the construction and financing of two reactors and possibly two additional ones, at as yet unspecified site. However, Rosatom highlighted the need to prepare for signing two intergovernmental agreements—one on nuclear power plant construction and one on financing. But till today no reactor is under construction.
Construction has started on a small locally-designed power reactor prototype, CAREM-25. In February 2014, Argentina’s National Atomic Energy Commission (CNEA) started construction of the CAREM-25 reactor. SMR enthusiasts around the world welcomed the event. CAREM is a pressurized water reactor with a gross electrical output of 27 MWe. Like other reactors around the world, CAREM has been significantly delayed. The reactor has been in development since the 1980s with an original design output of 15 MWe. Construction of the reactor was scheduled to begin in 2001. By 2009, CAREM developers promised that “preparation of the site facilities” was going well enough “to start the construction during the second half of 2010” and that was “expected to be finished by the end of 2014”. When construction started, CNEA announced that the reactor is currently scheduled to begin cold testing in 2016 and receive its first fuel load in the second half of 2017. The reactor has not received authorization from the country’s regulator for the various forthcoming steps, including fuel loading. (World Nuclear Status Report).
Other countries in South and Central America do not use nuclear power.