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  • Last year Eskom "abandoned" plans to build a new nuclear reactor at Thuyspunt near Cape St Francis in the Eastern Cape.
  • This year it will be paying a R16.5 million licence fee to build a nuclear reactor there.
  • Eskom says it is just keeping open the option to, some day, still build a reactor at its once-preferred site.

Eskom will be paying a R16.5 million license application fee to the National Nuclear Regulator to keep alive its long-held ambitions to build a new nuclear power plant at Thuyspunt in the Eastern Cape.

In October, activists celebrated Eskom apparently abandoning its plans for the site near holiday towns Cape St Francis and Jeffreys Bay.

But on Friday energy minister Jeff Radebe decreed that Eskom must pay R16.499 million for an "installation site licence application" for Thuyspunt.

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And this week Eskom confirmed it will make the payment, because it is not done with Thuyspunt just yet.

The payment in this financial year will be made "to ensure the long-term availability of the site for future nuclear construction" the company told Business Insider South Africa.

"These are licence fees and not any new nuclear build investment."

Thyspunt near Cape St. Francis in the Eastern Cape. (Photo: Deon Ferreira)

Eskom hopes the payment will secure a nuclear installation site licence (NISL) for Thuyspunt.*

"Given the NISL can be re-approved on a 5-yearly basis, Eskom sees the expenditure as a valuable insurance on the long term value of the site," Eskom said.

Eskom had originally envisaged building a new nuclear power station at Thuyspunt and later adding more nuclear capacity at Duynefontein, right next to its existing Koeberg nuclear plant outside Cape Town.

An earlier version of this article read: "
The payment will secure Eskom a nuclear installation site licence (NISL) for Thuyspunt."
The National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) described this as "misinformation", saying that "payment of application fees by any applicant to the NNR does not automatically secure a nuclear authorisation."
The article has been updated to reflect that Eskom merely hopes the payment will lead to the granting of the licence.

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