Geothermal newcomer making drilling plans

HOT rocks explorer, Geothermal Resources, hopes to start exploration drilling at its Frome project in South Australia in the second half of this year.

In its first quarterly report, the company, which listed on the ASX in March, said it aimed to complete at least six shallow holes to depths about 500 metres depth to determine geothermal gradients across the Frome project area.

“This data will be vitally important to determine the best location to site the first deep test drill-hole into the potential geothermal reservoir,” chairman Bob Johnson said.

“Preliminary drill sites have now been selected and a drilling contractor booked to complete the work in the second half of the year.”

A $A100,000 PACE grant (Programme for Accelerated Exploration) awarded to the company in the March quarter will help fund this drilling program.

But first the company must work through the regulatory requirements, which include Aboriginal heritage survey clearance, environmental assessment, notification of landholders and various safety issues. It expects these requirements will be satisfied by the end of next quarter.

Also during the quarter, the company applied for a $2.5 million REDI grant (Renewable Energy Development Initiative) to help fund research into identifying the optimum drilling locations for testing geothermal resources in the Frome project area, and subsequent verification and commercialisation.

“If the grant is successful, it will mean that almost double the funds raised by the company in its [$3million] IPO can be directed towards the search for hot rock geothermal energy within the Frome project area,” Johnson said.

“Part of the scientific rationale behind the REDI grant application was to map the theoretical heat generating capacity of the outcropping granite bodies in the region and apply this to the covered areas where it is proposed to drill.

“The high radiometric responses of outcropping basement rocks lying immediately south of the Frome project area indicates an exceptionally high heat generating capacity, which if contained under a suitable insulating blanket should yield high geothermal gradients.”