Australia’s first ever helium production plant is to be built in the country’s Northern Territory at Darwin, after a deal for the project was reached between BOC and Darwin LNG.

It is believed that the $33m project will have the capacity to meet the entire nation’s helium needs and also supply export markets, crucial if the current global helium shortage is a sign of things to come.

Northern Territory Chief Minister, Clare Martin, commented, “Gas is the future for the territory and this helium plant in Darwin shows why it has so much potential.”

Martin also urged other companies to follow BOC’s lead and use gas piped into Darwin in downstream industries.

“Our deep port, rail line and potential gas supplies in the Timor Sea area make Darwin an attractive option for investors,” Martin said.

Darwin, the most populated city in the sparsely populated Northern Territory, will now be established as Australia’s second international gas hub, with the current LNG plant at Wickham Point already in production and exporting to Japan, according to Martin.

“The helium plant is another step towards establishing the city as a gas manufacturing base,” she added.

Other future projects could be based on ammonia, methanol, olefins and their derivatives, indicated the minister.