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Canadian helium developers establish national association to address growing demand for critical helium supply

Calgary, October 12, 2023 – Canadian helium companies have announced the establishment of the Helium Developers Association of Canada to address growing demand for a long-term, secure supply of helium critical to Canada’s medical, scientific research, high-tech and industrial sectors.

The Helium Developers Association of Canada (HeDAC) represents companies looking to explore, develop and produce helium in Western Canada. Its mandate is to create public awareness and align industry and governments in advancing much-needed domestic helium supply.

“Global demand for helium is rising rapidly at the same time concerns over uncertain supply and pricing are growing,” says Richard Dunn, Executive Director, Helium Developers Association of Canada. “Helium is critical to essential medical services like MRIs. Concerns are rising over everything from the repatriated North American semiconductor chip manufacturing sector’s ability to support critical defense and electric vehicle production to restrictions on scientific research conducted by Canadian universities. This is a challenge and an opportunity that Canada is well-positioned to address.”

Helium, a non-combustible gas, is one of 31 federally-designated Canadian critical minerals and a critical enabler for development and application of high-tech and clean technologies that will be essential to Canada’s lower carbon future.  It plays a key and irreplaceable role in medical applications such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs), nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrometers as well as semi-conductor and fibre optic manufacturing, small modular reactors, quantum computing, industrial welding and manufacturing, leak detection (including leak detection of EV batteries), lifting applications and military and space applications, plus new and emerging areas such as heat pumps.

Concerns over uncertain supply have prompted urgent calls from the medical and scientific communities, including the Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists (CAMRT), Canadian Association of Radiologists (CAR) and Canadian Helium Users Group (CHUG) for the establishment of a secure and sustainable national helium supply chain.

“Helium supply issues have been a frequent threat to the medical, research, and industrial fields that depend on a consistent supply. It is imperative for the federal, provincial governments, regulators and industry to work together and prioritize establishing a sustainable and secure Canadian helium supply,” says Megan Brydon, President, CAMRT.

Canada’s helium resources are estimated to be the fifth largest in the world but account for less than 2% of global helium production. The majority of the world’s helium is produced in the U.S. and unstable political environments such as Russia, Qatar and Algeria. In the U.S. demand is rapidly growing and supply is declining. Much of the world’s increased supply of helium was forecast to come from Russia, however, Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine exposed the fragility of the supply chain and forced supply rationing.

Much of Canada’s helium resources are located in southeastern Alberta and southwestern Saskatchewan. Using well-established responsible development practices, helium is co-produced with nitrogen, unlike alongside the production of natural gas or liquefied natural gas (LNG) elsewhere in the world. 

 “Because our helium is co-produced with nitrogen it is recognized for being the most sustainably produced in the world and that puts Canada in a unique position to provide a long-term helium supply as the world transitions away from hydrocarbons,” says Chris Bakker, co-chair, Helium Developers Association of Canada. “Developing a helium industry represents a new, important and essential growth opportunity for Canada.”

The development of a helium industry in Canada aligns with the federal government and the Alberta and Saskatchewan governments’ strategic priorities, adds Ed Bereznicki, also co-chair of the association.

“We are engaging with the federal and provincial governments to get the right policies and programs in place. With those, Canada can become self-sufficient in the foreseeable future and a trusted supplier to other countries, including the U.S. Saskatchewan alone estimates its helium growth plan, which targets producing 10% of the world’s helium by 2030, will support thousands of jobs and generate annual exports worth as much as $500-million. The opportunity for Alberta was featured prominently in recent ministerial mandate letters and is equally significant,” says Bereznicki. “The increased activity from establishing this industry will provide short and long-term economic benefits to rural and Indigenous communities and can leverage the skills of oil and gas workers developed over a century.”

“The Helium Developers Association of Canada will provide a foundation for the expansion of helium development in our province. We are excited to see ongoing diversification of our economy, particularly in such an important sector for Canada’s future,” says Brian Jean, Minister of Energy and Minerals of Alberta.

Founding member companies of the Helium Developers Association of Canada include: Avanti Helium Corp., First Helium Inc., Global Helium Corp., Royal Helium Ltd. and Thor Resources Inc.

Visit HeDAC at www.hedac.ca and follow us on LinkedIn, X and Facebook.

For more information contact:

Richard Dunn, Executive Director, Helium Developers Association of Canada

richard.dunn@hedac.ca 

403-512-6440

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