Sir – The most critical issue of concern to Central Australians is the risk of fracking to our sole source of water, our precious ground water supply.
The panel members were of the view that the risk of contamination of our ground water in Central Australia was low.
But they were also of the view that this could not be scientifically known until a full Strategic Regional Environmental and Baseline Assessment (SREBA) is conducted. These assessments have not yet been carried out in any region of the NT to date.
The recommendation number 15.1 of the report is that SREBAs are undertaken prior to the granting of any further production approvals.
Given the very large quantity of water that is required to undertake shale gas mining, it would be remiss not to secure this vital baseline information before proceeding with shale gas production, or any commitment to allow shale gas mining in the future.
In good faith I cannot support the lifting of the moratorium on fracking in Central Australia (my community, my region) until a SREBA is conducted and we know exactly what we are dealing with from an environmental and social perspective.
These baseline assessments not only involve a complete analysis of water quality and quantity but also of surface aquatic and groundwater dependent ecosystems, terrestrial ecosystems, greenhouse gas emissions, public health, social impacts as well as Aboriginal people and their culture.
These assessments take a minimum of 2 to 5 years. The “appraisal” phase for the mining of shale gas, prior to the “production” phase, takes about the same amount of time.
In the meantime I fully support the mining industry in Central Australia. I look forward to the progress of Arafura Resources Nolan’s rare earth project at Aileron, Tellus Holdings plans to develop the Chandler salt mine near Titjikala and TNG Limited’s planned Mount Peake vanadium, titanium and iron mine.
These mines have enormous potential to provide significant economic stimulus to our local economy, benefitting the whole of the NT. Our future does not have to hinge solely on the shale gas industry.