July 20, 2018
Silica side project boost iwi earnings
The Ngati Tahu Tribal Lands Trust is set to increase earnings from its geothermal field near Taupo through a new venture to extract silica from geothermal fluid.
Geo40 has been running a pilot at the Ohaaki power station, which is a joint venture between the trust and Contact Energy, and it’s now ready to step up to commercial production.
It will provide an environmentally-sound source of the silica manufacturers need for everyday consumer goods such as paint, which would otherwise require large amounts of carbon-intensive energy to make.
Geo40 estimates it can produce up to 10,000 tonnes a year of high grade silica from Ohaaki for export.
Ngati Tahu spokesperson Aroha Campbell says removing the silica will restore clarity to the sacred hot spring administered by the associated Ohaki Marae Reservation Trust.
Proceeds from the venture will also go to community projects such as protecting the marae from the Waikato River and re-establishing a road from the marae to the Ohaki Bridge.
The project should also reduce maintenance costs for the station, as there is less silica to clog the pipes.
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