Great news from Australia, where the BOC Darwin Helium Plant was today declared open by The Honourable Paul Henderson MLA, Chief Minister of the Northern Territory and The Honourable Martin Ferguson AM MP, Minister for Resources and Energy.

The helium plant is the first of its kind in Australia and has been built next to the Darwin LNG site that supplies the raw helium gas, from a previously unused vent stream.

As well as being an Austrlian first, it is the first helium plant in the Southern Hemisphere and puts Darwin and Australia on the world map as a new source of the rare product – explained Colin Isaac, Managing Director of BOC South Pacific.

“The new plant will produce 150 million cubic feet of helium annually, enough to supply all of Australia’s needs with additional capacity available for export to other world markets. Australia’s helium requirements were previously met by importing product from overseas, typically from the US and the Middle East,” said Isaac.

He continued, “There is significant growth in demand for helium around the world, particularly for medical, industrial and electronic use. Helium has many applications and is used extensively in the medical, manufacturing, space and defence industries. Helium is colourless, non-flammable and chemically inert making it one of the most versatile industrial gases.”

Like the LNG plant, the Darwin Helium plant has boosted the local economy. Other benefits for the Territory include the potential for extra shipping through East Arm Port and the expansion of contracting services and supply businesses in the local area.

Today’s opening of Australia’s first ever helium production plant sees the country become self-sufficient in helium supply and the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory, The Hon Paul Henderson, said, “Australia continues to play an important role in providing our region and world markets with a secure, reliable supply of this rare commodity.”

“Today’s official opening of the helium plant confirms Darwin as an attractive place to invest and a world class gas province.”