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 a number of countries and states in different continents. In the United States, the American EPA, has extended the completion of what is now a six year investigation, by two years until May 2015.

South Africa has conducted a cursory investigation into SGM under the auspices of the Department of Minerals. There has been no effective public participation in South Africa, despite a repeated undertaking by Minister Shabangu 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 contested – in terms of actual numbers, local employment and so-called sustainability.

Taking these 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.

South Africans may be well advised to request scientific proof that shale gas is the  best option to create sustainable jobs, energy and allow our children to live out the promise of Section 24 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.

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