Geo40 extracting lithium from geothermal fluid
Taupo-based Geo40 confirmed today that it is successfully extracting near battery-grade lithium from geothermal fluid near Taupo and has started construction of a lithium extraction pilot plant.
Geo40, which has a commercial demonstration plant extracting silica at Contact Energy’s Ohaaki Geothermal Power Station, said it is now consistently producing lithium carbonate at laboratory scale.
Geo40 Chief Executive, John Worth, said with battery-grade lithium trading at around US$10,000 per tonne, the achievement was an important milestone in the company’s plans to extract other valuable elements from geothermal fluids, now that silica extraction has been proven and successfully commercialised.
“We have the technology to successfully extract lithium in an environmentally sustainable way and will now focus on commercialising lithium extraction from geothermal fluid, aimed at the fast-growing electric vehicle battery market,” he said.
John Worth said the lithium results follow the recent announcement of $15 million in loan funding from New Zealand’s Provincial Growth Fund (PGF). He said PGF support was pivotal to enabling Geo40 to progress with both its core silica business and pursuing sustainable extraction of high-value elements such as lithium and caesium.
Geo40 is currently building a $20 million commercial silica extraction plant at Ohaaki, scheduled for commissioning in late 2020.
“The success of our silica extraction operations and the potential to add lithium extraction at scale highlights the potential of what we can achieve through our valued partnerships with Contact Energy, local iwi Ngati Tahu, the PGF and our highly skilled local contractors,” he said.
Geo40 will produce around 450 tonnes of high-grade colloidal silica this year, with all production fully committed to local and international customers.
Geo40 was established to extract high-value minerals from geothermal brines, initially targeting the silica that progressively builds up and eventually blocks geothermal power station pipes and reinjection wells, reducing renewable power generating capacity.
Geo40 was established in 2010 by New Zealand mining engineer Mike O’Sullivan and a number of private investors. The company is currently engaged in a private capital raise to complete the funding required for the commercial plant, as well as to advance the lithium extraction programme.
John Worth: 021 800 310