A new report looking at the feasibility of developing a commercial-scale helium liquefier in Saskatchewan has found that it could open broader helium markets, create jobs, and provide a positive financial return for owners.
The report, Helium Liquefaction in Saskatchewan, looked at the economics of several scenarios for the construction and operation of a liquefier in Saskatchewan. All scenarios showed a positive return on investment over the life of the project, based on the current supply and estimated price of helium. The report was done by the Saskatchewan Research Council.
"Research is key to understanding potential opportunities and identifying barriers to investment," Energy and Resources Minister Jim Reiter said. "Information like this is valuable to industry when making their financial decisions."
Helium is one of Canada's 31 critical minerals. It's used in a variety of scientific, medical, and technological applications. Helium cools super conducting magnets in MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) machines, separates hot gases and ultra-cold liquids during rocket launches and is used to make smart phones and fibre optic cable.
Helium is a gas that is typically turned into a liquid for cost-effective shipping. Six truckloads of helium in gas form equal one truckload of liquid helium. Currently, Saskatchewan helium is sent to Colorado to be liquified. The ability to liquefy helium in Saskatchewan would further facilitate opportunities for producers in the overseas markets.
This report supports commitments in the Government of Saskatchewan's Helium Action Plan: From Exploration to Exports, to contribute to the goal of Saskatchewan producing 10 per cent of the world's helium supply by 2030.
The Government of Saskatchewan will also use the information to seek federal funding through helium's position on Canada's Critical Minerals List.