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Geothermal mine gets more funding

Western Geopower drawing closer to answers about project’s viability

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The company pioneering Canada’s first geothermal power project 70 km west of Pemberton has secured a further $7 million to drill another production-sized test well.

Western GeoPower struck a "guaranteed agency agreement" with Dundee Securities Corporation last week, which gives Western GeoPower $7 million to complete another well and secures Dundee Securities almost half a million shares in the company.

Western GeoPower started drilling "production-sized" wells at their Meager Creek site during the fall of 2004.

The company has since made presentations to the people who live in and around Pemberton about the potential routes for power lines if the mine starts producing geothermal power.

Testing in the wells was supposed to be finished by the end of February but Western GeoPower has been advised to get further evidence of rock permeability, which is one of major ingredients needed for a successful geothermal mine.

Western GeoPower’s public policy manager, Craig Aspinall, said there was no question about the amount of heat in the rocks under Meager Creek, but the rocks also have to be permeable for a geothermal mine to work.

"It’s not the temperature, we found evidence of enough heat in the drilling program that happened in 2002," said Aspinall.

"But with this program we do production-sized wells and we need to see if we can get the hot water to the surface and what volumes of water we can get coming out of the permeable rocks."

Aspinall said the drilling rig at Mount Meager would be skidded this week so drilling could start on a third well, named MC-8.

"We need to continue with the drilling program so we can prove the project… we need to feel a little more comfortable with the drilling information."

While a third well is drilled Aspinall and Western GeoPower will be in further discussions with B.C. Hydro about potential power line routes.

This issue is an enormous one for the people who live in the Pemberton Valley because several companies have tried to run transmission lines down the valley before and they have all been met with vehement opposition.

Aspinall said Western Geopower was still focussed on the Birkenhead route for the power lines, which would keep them out of the Pemberton Valley.

"But at the end of the day it’ll be up to us what option we choose for the power line route, it’s just that if we choose something that the environmental office doesn’t want then we’ll need to give them a rationale," said Aspinall.

"At this moment we’re till focussed on the Birkenhead but there’s also some concerns there with the wild land area… so we’ve got a ways to go with this project."

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