The South African Minister for Mining Susan Shabangu announced on Thursday that no decision was to be made on the shale gas prospecting issue until next year. The existing moratorium had been extended by the government for an additional six months. The government needs more time to investigate the controversial hydraulic fracturing process, known in the industry as "fracking".
Minister Susan Shabangu had stopped all new applications any previous bids lodged earlier on shale gas prospecting earlier in the year. A team has been appointed to investigate the effects of fracking at the central Karoo location. The ban has came in April when the Royal Dutch Shell Plc applied for permission to drill about 24 wells in an area spanning about 90,000 square kilometers.
The minister said that the department needed to keep the public informed and some interim reports had been received from the team. However there were some issues that were not clear and the minster had sent these back to the investigating team for clarifications. The Treasure the Karoo Action Group has sited potential environmental damage as part of the key opposition to the process.
Minister Susan Shabangu said that was a correlation between mining profits and an increase in fatalities that also need to be addressed. She said that the country would strengthen mining laws so that companies may not compromise worker safety as they speed up production as commodity prices rise.
As for the investigation into fracking she assured the people that when it came to fracking in the Karoo, they would engage with everybody. They would go to the people. She added that she was not a hydraulic engineer and they were doing the study so that officials in conjunction with the public could make properly informed decisions into the practice.