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Ramaphosa: Shale-gas mining the way forward

The Deputy President was speaking at a business briefing in Cape Town on Wednesday.

FILE: Environmental organisations say fracking will shift our economy from being energy constrained to being water constrained.

CAPE TOWN - Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa says the exploitation of shale gas has changed the economic landscape of certain countries.

He was speaking at a business briefing in Cape Town today, where he fleshed out some of the issues raised in the President's State of the Nation Address (Sona).

Economic growth and energy security emerged as the main themes in his speech.

Ramaphosa says shale gas exploration and nuclear energy will bring new opportunities.

"The legislation is being rolled out to make sure that when we do exploit it, we exploit it properly and carefully in line with our environmental stewardship. It has changed the economic landscape of a number of countries and this is the direction that we want to take."

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is concerned about the President's State of the Nation Address last night.

The organisation's Saliem Fakir says, "The address focused on important issues facing the country, namely mining and energy. However, some of the proposed energy options, for example shale gas, nuclear and more coal, can only be properly measured in 10 to 15 years' time. The speech failed to address the country's immediate energy needs."

Fakir said far more effort should be put into renewables saying targets for these should be doubled.

"Our economic work also shows that the economic viability of shale gas is doubtful and may not warrant the hype and promise punted by the state as a potential energy 'game changer'."

WWF Senior Manager Christine Colvin says current plans for the expansion of coal mining and shale gas exploration (fracking) will shift our economy from being an energy-constrained economy to being a water-constrained economy.

"We do not have clarity on how negative impacts of Shale-gas exploration in the Karoo will be dealt with."

The organisation says details are lacking on the regulatory response to protection of Karoo aquifers if fracking goes ahead.

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