Under the first project, which received funds worth $230,000 a year for two years, GNS will work with The University of Auckland to extract minerals from geothermal fluids instead of injecting the fluids back into the ground from power stations.

Geothermal fluids are known to have many minerals such as lithium, silver and gold.

GNS Science project spokesman Dr Greg Bignall said an area of great potential is the extraction of lithium from thermal waters, which is feasible from New Zealand’s geothermal resources, and has application for use in batteries.

"Lithium is also used in the manufacture of specialist glass products and as a light-weight alloy in manufacturing," Dr Bignall added.

"While there is similar work underway internationally, notably in the United States, New Zealand’s unique geothermal environment offers exciting possibilities requiring a tailored methodology."

Under the second project, which will receive funds worth $1.1m for four years, GNS will work with The University of Auckland to develop integrated geophysical, chemical and flow simulation modelling software.

The software will help New Zealand’s geothermal energy companies in taking resource development decisions and will provide environmental sustainable management solutions.

Dr Bignall said not only will the new software be more efficient and more reliable, it will help significantly to reduce field development risk for geothermal energy companies.