China has opened its first large-scale helium plant in an effort to reduce its reliance on US imports, the South China Morning Post reported this morning.

According to the Chinese publication, Scientists working at the facility, located inside a natural gas processing plant in Yanchi county, Ningxia, are extracting helium from the waste product of natural gas.

The plant is believed to be the first facility in China that can produce helium at commercial scale, according to the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who designed and built the plant.

Reports from the South China Morning Post say that scientists working on the project expect an annual outreach to reach 20 tonnes, in the form of liquid helium.

The plants annual output is not a lot compared to China’s high annual usage; however, it is a step in the right direction and could kickstart the construction of more similar facilities due to its low cost.