PUBLIC consultations on draft regulations for shale gas exploration would begin next month, the Mineral Resources Department said yesterday. Briefing Parliament’s mineral resources portfolio committee, department director-general Thibedi Ramontja said the technical regulations on fracking would be finalised after the consultation process. The final regulations would be followed by the processing and issuing of licences. Applicants would be bound by strict regulations to ensure the government mitigated any environmental impact, including the contamination of ground water. “I am confident that in the event there are problems, they will be picked up quickly if there’s any threat to water in that area [the Karoo],” Ramontja said. “I’m confident water will be protected.” In addition to the generic regulations, prospective licensees would so be bound by additional standards because the geological areas where shale gas exploration would take place would differ. – Sapa