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Grant to explore ownership of geothermal minerals

25 November, 2013

Grant to explore ownership of geothermal minerals

University of Waikato law professor Barry Barton has received a $69,000 grant to carry out a study of the ownership of rights to minerals found in geothermal fluids.

Geothermal water and steam produced for electricity generation and heating contain dissolved minerals and gas which may have commercial value.

One question in unlocking that value is ownership.

The law on the matter is not clear, and various claims can be made to the minerals under different legislation and different rules of law.

Professor Barton will examine the different possibilities under the current law, and will consider desirable law reform in order to provide clarification.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment grant is part of a two-year $400,000 GNS Science project, From Waste to Wealth: Commercial Recovery of Products from Geothermal Fluids. Professor Barton says it is a pleasure to be working on an interdisciplinary project with GNS Science geothermal specialists that could find new value in geothermal resources.

“New ways of looking at our resources may improve the efficiency of our use of them, and improve the environmental outcomes,” he says.

“There is an interesting but complex legal question at the heart of the matter.”

Professor Barton is Director of the Centre for Environmental, Resources and Energy Law.


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