Fracking negotiations underway | Infrastructure news

Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi said that, because of the close proximity of the location of shale gas exploration and the Square Kilometer Array (SKA), a balance needs to be ensured.

The Department of Mineral Resources announced in February that the country will soon begin fracking in the Karoo. The department has published the technical regulations for the development of shale gas for public comment.

Deputy Mineral Resources Minister, Godfrey Oliphant, said in addition to consulting with the Department of Science and Technology, it was important that they also engage communities in the area, reported. “Shale gas is game changer for us and we want to ensure that we do it properly with the buy-in of all stakeholders.”

There were mainly three areas under discussion: the impact on water, the environment and the SKA.

Much debate has been raised in the past over the impact that fracking could have on the water-scare Karoo. Wessa conservation director Garth Barnes says any pollution or degradation, particularly in the Karoo, could cause disastrous ecological, social and economic consequences.

However, former Minister of Water Affairs, Edna Molewa, has described fracking as a game changer. “We see fracking as helping the country to deal with carbon emissions reductions. While working within the environmental considerations, if we find shale gas, we do think it will be a game changer for the country.”

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe has also thrown his weight behind fracking as a means to meet South Africa’s growing energy needs.

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