Tuesday, March 2, 2021

No mining yet, but govt confirms CBM, petroleum prospecting licenses

Government has categorically denied recent claims that Botswana has plans to set up operations that will see the country producing massive natural gas from the sensitive Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR).

Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources, Kitso Mokaila said on Monday his ministry has not issued any mining licenses for shale gas or coal bed methane operations.

“However, several prospecting licenses for coal bed methane (CBM) and Petroleum were issued in different parts of the country and a few of those falls within Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR),” he admitted.

It has since emerged that as at the end of September last year, there were a total of 121 Prospecting Licenses granted for energy minerals (coal and CBM) by the government.

Mokaila confirmed the figures but revealed that the number has since dropped to 88 as of October this year. “This reduction is mostly due to licenses within the CKGR which were cancelled or relinquished”.

His comments come at a time when Botswana is hitting international headlines for allegedly allowing fracking in the sensitive CKGR.

A recent documentary funded by the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) claimed that drilling and fracking are underway in Botswana and that international companies are planning to set up massive gas operations in the future.

‘Fracking’ is a slang term used to describe processes involving sub-surface fracturing of rocks, usually through the injection of fluids.

Through the film, the society accuses Botswana of not making any attempt to inform the public despite growing international concerns about the harmful effects of natural gas production.

While activists have been campaigning against the extraction of shale gas and coal bed methane for years, the film document alarming new evidence from the United States, exposing the damage these industries can inflict on human and animal health and the environment.

Jeffrey Barbee, Director of the controversial film says that, “The people of Botswana have the right to know about developments on this scale and t be given the chance to publicly debate their pros and cons and then decide whether natural gas production is in their best interest”.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper