Construction of nuclear reactor to begin in 2019

The construction of a nuclear research reactor in Zambia with Russia's assistance is expected to begin in 2019, said Zambia's ambassador to Russia, Shadreck Luwita at the SADC Investment Forum in Moscow.

"To construct a research reactor, there are a lot of processes which are involved, including the international atomic energy approvals as well as a legal framework, which is being considered in this sitting of the Zambian parliament. So once a legislation is put in place by parliament, that will pave way for actual works to commence in 2019 in earnest," Luwita said.

He added that a great deal of work had already been done, in particular, an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) agreement had been signed and the site for the construction of the reactor had been chosen.

The diplomat revealed that government had set up a special steering committee which would spearhead the construction of the research reactor.

Luwita explained that the research reactor, which would be producing isotopes, would enable the country to abandon importing isotopes from India and South Africa and will even permit the exports of Zambian isotopes to neighboring countries.

"In addition to that, one of the laboratories will be used for the irradiation of crops and this will give us an opportunity for various types of crops which are grown in Zambia to be exported to the Russian market, the European Union, and indeed to the United States," Luwita said.

In February 2017, Russia and Zambia signed an inter-governmental agreement on cooperation in building of a nuclear science and technology center in Zambian. The agreement provides for the center's construction based on a multipurpose nuclear research water-cooled reactor with a capacity of 10MW. The center is expected to include a laboratory complex, multipurpose irradiation center, and a cyclotron-based nuclear medicine center.

The ambassador also noted that the two countries would most likely sign an agreement on the construction of the nuclear power plant during the 11th ATOM EXPO international forum, due to be organised by Russia's Rosatom state corporation next April.

According to the ambassador, the implementation of the project, valued at over USD$100 million, will pave the way for the document's signing.

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