Thursday, 1 May 2014

Is Fracking coming to the Central Kalahari Game Reserve?

Media reports have recently speculated wildly about the prospects of shale gas exploration and mining coming to the CKGR. The Government of Botswana has in response to these speculations released a press statement of which an abstract follows:

“ We would wish to here emphasize that while concessions for energy prospecting have indeed been granted over wide areas of the country there are currently no mining licenses for gas extraction in the country, and thus no commercial production involving so-called fracking or any other fracturing techniques. With respect to prospecting, no current operations have been given permission to conduct hydraulic fracking, i.e. fracturing procedures involving fluids in our country. If such a process were to be carried out without authorisation it would be a violation of the Mines and Minerals Act of 1999 and the Environmental Assessment Act of 2011. This restriction is in recognition by Government of the fact that hydraulic fracturing (fracking) does indeed pose potential environmental risks.” One can read the whole press release here.

From the press statement it is clear that exploration rights were granted in the area but no mining rights. Fracking is a very controversial mining practice worldwide due to the dangers it  poses to environmental and human health. This is not only a threat but a reality as proved in the contamination of groundwater elsewhere in the world as a result of shale gas mining. Fortunately the Botswana Government seems to be transparent in its approach and awareness of the dangers it poses. One can only hope that they will upheld the well being of not only the Central Kalahari Bushmen, but of all the peoples living in the Kalahari.

A simplified illustration of the dangers of Fracking
Image Credit: Mark Parnell

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