Lithium recovery investment gets green light in Taupō

Published: 22 February, 2022

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New Zealand’s commitment to creating a lower carbon future has been given a boost with the Government providing $2 million from the new Regional Strategic Partnership Fund to develop world-leading lithium recovery technology near Taupō.

View of a steaming geothermal plant from a high angle.

Geo40's Ohaaki Northern Silica Plant near Taupō

The exciting new technology is being developed by Geo40 Limited and has the potential to further diversify New Zealand’s geothermal and energy sectors. The funding will help Geo40 scale-up its lithium technology.

Lithium is a highly prized element, vital for building electric vehicle batteries and a lower-carbon future, and Geo40 has developed a way to sustainably recover it from geothermal brine.

Traditional lithium mining techniques leave a heavy carbon footprint, but Geo40’s technology has the potential to help solve this major problem, bringing significant environmental benefits.

The investment will also help the Government explore alternative ways of reducing emissions, while helping build a stronger local economy in Taupō by diversifying the region’s already productive geothermal sector.

The $2 million funding agreement will see the Government’s regional economic development arm, Kānoa – RDU, increase its equity stake in Geo40.  The investment will allow further testing of the lithium recovery technology before it moves to commercial production.

Geo40 Limited has a proven track record of developing world-leading solutions to recover valuable minerals and elements from geothermal brine. It already recovers and exports silica, a marketable commodity with a wide range of uses including, glass manufacture, foundries, building products, chemicals, and microchips.

The silica is sourced from Geo40’s green silica plant near Taupō, the first commercial sized operation of its kind in the world. The plant was developed in partnership with Kānoa – RDU. 

The investment in Geo40’s lithium recovery technology is the first allocation from the new $200 million Regional Strategic Partnership Fund (RSPF).

Kānoa – RDU manages the RSPF, and the organisation’s head Robert Pigou says the investment aligns with the fund’s core principles.

“The investment is designed to further leverage the Taupō region’s natural resources, and we are confident that further RSPF support for Geo40 will only add to the region’s reputation as a global leader in geothermal technology.

“We see this as important step in our mission at Kānoa – RDU to continue to work with our regional partners to build more productive, resilient, inclusive, sustainable and Māori-enabling economies,” Robert Pigou said.