Mining a threat to food production and water quality

Agri SA President Johannes Möller
Photo: FW Archive

At the recent Agri SA Congress the organisation’s president Johannes Möller said Agri SA is concerned about the impact of mining on the sustainability of farming.

For this reason, it has identified the exploration and development of mineral resources, including shale gas, as a focus area for the next few years.

“The rights of South African farmers are pivotal to consider, and our view is that we cannot erode or pollute our environment to the extent that the feasibility of farming becomes jeopardized,” said Möller.

Gerhard van den Burgh, a resource and production analyst at the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP), said BFAP had conducted a study for the Maize Trust about the impact of mining on agriculture.

“Our research found that 550 000ha used for cash cropping is at risk of going out of production or already lost,” he said.

Dr Morné du Plessis, CEO of the World Wild Fund for Nature South Africa (WWF) said from an environmental point of view “fracking makes no sense.”

According to the WWF, the potential risk of freshwater contamination by shale gas production is one of the most contentious issues in the debate around shale gas development.

A WWF report on the economic realities of shale gas exploration said that mitigating environmental damage in the Karoo has to be a key condition for fracking.

There also needs to be transparency about the chemicals used in the procedure.