PBMR CEO quits

Jaco Kriek’s resignation as CEO of the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (Pty) Ltd (PBMR) is not because of deep cuts in its funding from government and resultant staff lay-offs, PBMR spokesperson Tom Ferreira told the Mail & Guardian on Monday.

Kriek resigned on Monday afternoon, after six years at the helm of the state-owned enterprise (SOE), saying he wanted to explore other opportunities in the energy industry.

Dr Alex Tsela, PBMR’s General Manager: Nuclear Compliance Assurance, has been appointed as acting CEO.

Treasury announced in February that it was gradually terminating its contribution to the PBMR project, starting with a reduction in funding from more than R1-billion a year since 2006/7 to R11-million over the next three years.

Treasury’s announcement triggered PBMR’s retrenchment of 600 staff, approximately 75% of its total workforce.

But Ferreira denied that government had withdrawn its support for PBMR, saying: “Government has indicated that they will decide in August where nuclear energy fits into South Africa’s energy-generating future, after which there is still potential for government funding and other backing from other investors.”

PBMR is in negotiations with the Algerian government to supply them with nuclear technology, and have also bid for a new generation nuclear plant project tendered by the US Department of Energy.

“While times are hard, we are not a sinking ship,” Ferreira said.

Dawie Roodt, chief economist at Efficient Group, told the Mail & Guardian: “There have been far too many resignations and not enough continuity at all these SOEs.”

Roodt added that, with South Africa’s energy security far from certain, even a minor energy generator like PBMR had a contribution to make.

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Lionel Faull

Lionel Faull

Lionel is a reporter at the Mail & Guardian Centre for Investigative Journalism, Amabhungane. Read more from Lionel Faull

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