The Department of Mineral Resources task team set up early last year to investigate the pros and cons of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, could not be tainted by bias as it had not engaged with the companies that had applied for shale gas exploration licences in the Karoo, director-general Thibedi Ramontja said in an affidavit filed at the North Gauteng High Court.
The Treasure the Karoo Action Group (TKAG) brought an action calling on Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu to release the names of the task team members. These were provided in an affidavit released late on Tuesday night.
Ramontja denied TKAG’s allegation that the task team’s report “would have to be considered tainted by bias” on the grounds that those seeking fracking-related exploration licences – Shell Exploration, Bundu Oil and Gas and Falcon Oil & Gas – “have not been allowed to engage with the task team as part of the… task team’s research”.
TKAG chairman Jonathan Deal said the big companies must have engaged with the government before the establishment of the task team, but he welcomed the release of the names of the team members.