WorldWide Drilling Resource

24 OCTOBER 2022 WorldWide Drilling Resource® Sharing Data from Exploration Drilling May Help Geothermal Development Adapted from Information by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory Across the United States there are more than 3 million abandoned mining wells. Each hole drilled into the ground offers more than just the ghost of minerals never found. There are layers of valuable data waiting for the right audience. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Senior Legal and Regulatory Analyst Aaron Levine hopes the mining industry becomes that audience. In his new research, "Mining G.O.L.D. (Geothermal Opportunities Leveraged Through Data): Exploring Synergies Between the Geothermal and Mining Industries," Levine offers a two-pronged strategy of investigating mining data and taking advantage of hidden geothermal renewable energy resources. "Our goal is really to target the mining industry for this opportunity and really make them understand the potential synergies between the two industries," Levine said. Geothermal energy is a hidden asset, often located one or two miles underground. It is challenging for the geothermal industry to spend millions in exploration and find nothing. One key geothermal exploration method is temperature gradient drilling. Throughout 2017, 31 wells were drilled in Nevada at already identified geothermal fields. In comparison, the mining industry drills more than 2000 wells in Nevada per year, and to similar depths. Levine said the common ground between geothermal and mining industries doesn't end there. Additional shared exploration includes surface mapping; geophysical and geochemical analysis; remote sensing; as well as geologic and conceptual modeling. NREL researchers are looking at data where mines seeking gold or other minerals found nothing, except evidence of geothermal energy resources. For minimal costs, the study recommends the mining industry catalog such explorative data and potentially monetize it for geothermal uses. While some mining companies are shifting more toward renewable energy resources, Levine said many are still reliant on diesel fuel to power operations, especially at remote mines. The study discusses the potential of utilizing geothermal energy resources on-site to help achieve improved environmental performance and decarbonization. Existing mines on federally managed public lands with approved plans of operation may even claim a noncompetitive leasing right to the geothermal resources, which may further simplify the exploration and development of geothermal resources discovered through mining data. Case studies described in the paper reveal how roughly 200 megawatts of net power was discovered via previous mining exploration activities. Ultimately, leveraging mining industry data, knowledge, and expertise will expand the geothermal exploration workforce, increase the rate of geothermal resource discovery, and potentially reduce geothermal electricity's cost by up to 30%. The mining industries win by leveraging geothermal energy to provide a potential electricity source to improve environmental performance and decarbonization. The McGinnis Hills Geothermal Complex in Nevada is located on both government-managed and private lands. The site was initially explored for mineral resources during the 1980s. Although exploration efforts did not locate mineral resources, it did reveal hot water in some of the boreholes. Ormat Technologies obtained the federal geothermal leases for the site in August 2007, and has completed three phases totaling 140 megawatts. The company is in the process of permit approval for an expansion, making it one of the largest geothermal power plants in the country. Photo courtesy of Ormat Technologies. EXB New & Used Tricones PDCs Drag & Claw Bits Drill Collars Bit Tipping Subs & Stabilizers HDD Bits & Reamers DTH Hammer & Bits Custom Fabrication Junk Mills / Fishing Tools Rod Henderson 661-201-6259 Eran Henderson 661-330-0790