Areva Said to Offer to Sell Water Desalination Plant to Namibia

Jan 17, 2014 6:29 am ET

Jan. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Areva SA, the world’s largest nuclear-reactor builder, offered to sell its 3 billion Namibian dollar ($276 million) desalination plant in the African nation to the government, a person with knowledge of the matter said.

Areva would retain a 10 percent to 20 percent stake in the plant to guarantee water supply to the French company’s planned Trekkopje uranium mine, said the person who asked not to be named because the offer hasn’t been made public. Namibia’s government hasn’t yet responded to the offer made through state- owned utility Namibia Water Corp., the person said.

Julien Duperray, a spokesman for Areva, based in the Paris suburb of La Defense, didn’t immediately respond to calls seeking comment. Namibia Water couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Areva, which mothballed the Trekkopje project in 2012 after prices of the nuclear fuel slumped, has been stymied in its plan to supply desalinated water to uranium mines run by Paladin Energy Ltd., Rio Tinto Plc and China Guangdong Nuclear Power Co. by the absence of a bulk supply agreement with Namibia Water. Those projects in the arid Erongo region have been affected by water shortages that also impact the coastal towns of Swakopmund and Walvis Bay.

The offer from Areva comes as Namibia’s government evaluates three bids to build its own 1.5 billion-Namibian- dollar desalination plant. Construction is due to start this year, the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry has said.

Discussions over the price of the Areva plant haven’t taken place, the person said.

--With assistance from Francois de Beaupuy in Paris. Editors: Dylan Griffiths, Antony Sguazzin