For immediate release: January 27, 2000
Media Contact: Claudia Chandler -- 916 654-4989



California to Present the Nation's First Energy Project
to Extract Silica and Manganese from Geothermal Brine



What:

Even as U.S. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson this week announces plans to encourage geothermal energy in the West, the California Energy Commission unveils a project to mine commercial-grade silica and manganese from geothermal brines beneath the Salton Sea.

The project with CalEnergy Generation, a subsidiary of MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company, will help make geothermal energy more cost effective and tap valuable minerals from brine brought up by the geothermal process. Once perfected, the silica and manganese extraction method also will add 70 to 90 full-time jobs to Imperial County. CalEnergy is the leading property taxpayer in the county, contributing approximately $7 million annually.


Where:

CalEnergy's Salton Sea Unit 5

950 West Lindsey Road, Calipatria, California


When:

10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Monday, January 31, 2000


Who:

Participants include:

California Energy Commission Vice Chair David Rohy
CalEnergy Vice President of Operations Jim Turner
MidAmerican Vice President Jonathan Weisgall


Why:

CalEnergy's eight geothermal plants in the Salton Sea region of California generate 330 megawatts of geothermal electricity. In doing so, the plants daily produce 120 tons of material rich in dissolved minerals.

The company is currently building a $200 million plant to recover up to 30,000 metric tons of zinc annually from brine tailings. Its success in recovering high-quality zinc has spurred MidAmerican's CalEnergy operations to research and develop techniques to extract other useful minerals such as high grade silica and manganese from geothermal brines.

To help in the research efforts, the company is receiving a matching grant of $904,340 through the Energy Commission's geothermal program.

# # #

Attention Editors: A tour of the Lindsey Road facility will follow the presentation. For further information, contact: Mark Reinders, MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company, 712-277-7866 or Percy Della, California Energy Commission, 916-825-9931

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