Shale gas mining is a process that applies the technique of high-volume, horizontal, slick-water fracturing (‘fracking’ or ‘hydraulic fracturing’). It involves pumping water, sand and chemicals into horizontally drilled wells, under hydraulic pressure to fracture the underground shale layers and release gas.

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Shale gas mining (SGM), is presently banned or under some form of restriction or moratorium in more than a hundred places around the world, including states, cities and countries like France, Bulgaria and Germany. In the United States, New York State has recently extended their ban on fracking, citing public health concerns as one of the main reasons.

South Africa has conducted an elementary investigation into SGM under the auspices of the Department of Minerals. The report did not include the invovlement of several critical departments such as those dealing with health, agriculture, rural development and land reform, transport and tourism, to name a few. There has also been no effective public participation in South Africa, despite a repeated undertaking by the Department of Minerals to do so.

The economics of SGM, especially in America, are contested – also with regards to Energy Return on Investment (EROI) and sustainability. Jobs generated by SGM are also being disputed – in terms of actual numbers, local employment and so-called sustainability. The lack of substantial economic benefits and the health risks were the two pillars of Quebec's environmental review report on shale gas and formed part of their decision to adopt a cautious approach.

Taking these, and other facts into account, and acknowledging the lack of cohesive, broad and inclusive government consultation with the various stakeholders in South Africa, we stand in opposition to the licencing of shale gas exploration, or SGM in South Africa.

  We believe that until it has been proven that shale gas is in the best interests of all South Africans, and in line with Section 24 of the Constitution which guarantees the right to an environment that is not harmful to health or well-being, it should be opposed.

We are a non-profit organisation aimed at promoting awareness, participation, transparency, accountability and justice around the issue of shale gas in South Africa.

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