Koeberg: Africa’s only nuclear power station. Picture: AFP/GETTY IMAGES
Koeberg: Africa’s only nuclear power station. Picture: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Lesedi Nuclear Services has rebranded itself as a contractor in SA’s general power generation, mining and oil and gas sectors as the nation’s nuclear energy plans go off the boil.

Group business development executive Shane Pereira says the company has diversified from as far back as 2006, undertaking contracts relating to the construction of open-cycle gas turbines for Eskom and the Medupi and Kusile power stations, as well as having been involved in biomass and waste-to-energy projects.

"We had a quiet optimism about the nuclear build programme in SA — until recently. About 80% of our revenue is currently non-nuclear," Pereira said on Tuesday.

"Eighteen months ago we recognised the mining sector as an opportunity for us, specifically focusing on clean air and emissions control. Then a year ago we looked at the oil and gas business and saw opportunity in fuel depots and storage sites."

The change in branding comes amid the crisis in SA’s civil engineering sector. The fortunes of large infrastructure-related groups on the JSE, including steel and cement producers, have declined because of lack of state spending on major infrastructure projects.

But Lesedi, a 51% broad-based empowerment group, has tapped into niche engineering, procurement and construction projects. Pereira said the group’s empowerment credentials had been useful in terms of government policy, but that a "lot of regulation does not look at financial feasibility and project sustainability" in terms of procurement targets and "least cost" project inputs.

The Cape Town-based company employs more than 300 engineers, project management professionals and technicians. Its main 46% shareholder is still French nuclear company Framatome, which was renamed from Areva in January.

"With Lesedi evolving to a firmly established African company, the rebranding of the group reflects its purpose and vision for the future: to be the leading engineering, procurement and construction enterprise recognised for empowering and energising the enrichment of the African continent," said Lesedi CEO Francis Carruthers.

allixm@bdfm.co.za

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