South Africa’s Department of Energy has described reports of a tender process being underway for six new nuclear power plants as “factually incorrect.”

In an emailed statement on 8 October the department denied that the government had “at any point” committed to building six new nuclear reactors. Neither has the department selected “any design, vendor nor suppliers of the nuclear power plants”, the statement added.

While the government had earlier approved plans to boost its nuclear capacity by 9.6 GW the statement said no decision had been made on the number of plants.

An article in the country’s Mail & Guardian on 6 October listed potential bidders for a 1trn rand ($126bn) tender and suggested a Franco-Chinese would shortly emerge as a likely winner. Areva was also described in the paper’s account as having lobbied vigorously to win nuclear contracts in South Africa.

The Department of Energy stressed that the government would follow proper procedures to “instill confidence in and protect the credibility of the process”.

“Attempts by interested parties to compromise these processes will not be taken lightly,” read the statement.

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