Rosatom is seeking to build power plants in other African countries, including SA. Picture: BLOOMBERG/ANDREY RUDAKOV
Rosatom is seeking to build power plants in other African countries, including SA. Picture: BLOOMBERG/ANDREY RUDAKOV

The state-owned South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa) and the healthcare division of its Russian counterpart, Rosatom, have signed a co-operation agreement for nonpower-related uses of nuclear technology.

This paves the way for closer collaboration in the field of nuclear medicine.

The agreement, which was signed on the sidelines of the Brics Summit under way in Sandton, will see Necsa partner with Rusatom Healthcare to build two small "solution reactors" in SA, designed for making nuclear medicine products. They also plan to build a commercial cyclotron for the production of radio-pharmaceuticals.

"Both parties have a great deal of expertise in this sector and we believe that a combined effort will open up new markets and hasten new technological advancements … Nuclear medicine is rapidly expanding globally and plays a vitally important role in the early detection of cancers and other noncommunicable diseases," Rusatom Healthcare director-general Denis Cherednichenko said in an e-mailed statement.

Necsa said it supplied close to 28% of the world’s medical isotopes used in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. These products have a very short shelf life and are transported to patients in 60 countries in less than 36 hours. Necsa generates revenue of R1.4bn a year from nuclear medicine products.

Necsa chair Kelvin Kemm said: "We have long been planning a massive expansion of our nuclear medicine operations and look forward to exploring these opportunities with our Russian counterparts.

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