Move by minister to qualify shale gas exploration

Drilling OK but no “fracking”

Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu has said her ministry is to consider Karoo shale-gas exploration licence applications but such would be on the basis of excluding  fracking until the country’s mining regulations had been “augmented” to allow for what hydraulic fracturing involved.

She said that normal drilling could take place as well as geophysical and geochemical mapping but the fracking process itself could not take place during the time it would take draft “appropriate regulations, controls and coordination systems”.    The waiting period to allow for this would be about six months to a year, she said.

The minister did not state when the issuance of licences would commence as a result of the cabinet’s “conditional” approval of fracking exploration at the beginning of September but said that a monitoring committee would be established to oversee the augmentation of the mining regulations, as well as to supervise possible fracking operations.

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