China helps South Africa develop its nuclear workforce

24 April 2015

South Africa has signed two further nuclear energy cooperation agreements with China as part of preparations towards the possible construction of new nuclear power units. The move came as the first group of South African workers began a nuclear power plant training course at a Chinese university, as agreed under an earlier accord.

China-South Africa April 2015 - 460 (CNEC)
Tshelane and Gu sign the agreement between Necsa and CNEC (Image: CNEC)

On 21 April, Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa (Necsa) president Phumzile Tshelane signed a memorandum of understanding with China Nuclear Energy Engineering Group (CNEC) president Jun Gu. Under that agreement, South African trainees would undergo training in China on nuclear power plant construction.

Necsa also signed a cooperation agreement with China's State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation (SNPTC) for training on project management for nuclear power projects. The agreement calls for South Africa to send project managers to construction sites in China where demonstration CAP1400 units are planned.

"Through this collaboration with China we are enhancing our skills base with practical experience from China's massive nuclear build program," Tshelane was cited as saying by Engineering News. "This also cements the relationship between the two countries who are indispensable partners in the exploitation of nuclear technology."

The latest agreements follow those signed in December 2014, including an MoU on a nuclear fuel cycle partnership, a financing framework agreement for the construction of a new nuclear power plant in South Africa, and an agreement on nuclear personnel training. Those agreements follow on from the November signing of an inter-governmental framework agreement on nuclear cooperation by the two countries, a preparatory step towards the possible construction of Chinese nuclear power plants in South Africa.

South Africa plans to build 9.6 GWe of new nuclear capacity. As well as signing inter-governmental frameworks, the South African government invited would-be reactor vendors to attend 'vendor parade workshops', hosted by the country's Department of Energy. These were intended to form part of the government's technical investigations prior to making its procurement decision. They were attended by delegations from Canada, China, France, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the USA.

Training starts

One of the agreements inked in December, also signed by SNPTC and Necsa, will see SNPTC provide training to around 300 South African nuclear professionals in a scheme involving two years of basic training, professional training and in-service training.

South African trainees in China - April 2015 - 460 (SNPTC)
The first South African workers begin their course in China (Image: SNPTC)

The first group of 50 trainees began a four-month course in China on 22 April.

The training will take place at the Shanghai Jiao Tong and Tsinghua Universities. The training will be in the form of lectures and visits to some of China's nuclear facilities.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News