CONSTRUCTION commenced recently on Australia’s first helium plant, which will be operated by BOC in Darwin, during a ground breaking ceremony with the Northern Territory Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Hon Delia Lawrie MLA.
“At a construction cost of $41.3 million, this will be the first helium plant in the southern hemisphere and will supply around 3% of the world’s helium,” said Colin Isaac, BOC South Pacific Managing Director.
BOC is a member of The Linde Group, a world leader in the production of helium.
“Australia’s helium requirements are currently met by importing the gas from overseas, typically from the USA and the Middle East.
The opportunity to extract helium from the Darwin LNG plant will see Australia self-sufficient in helium supply instead of having to rely on imported product.
There will be additional capacity available for export to other world markets from Darwin.
“There is significant growth in demand for helium around the world, particularly for medical, industrial and electronic use.
“When the purification and liquefaction plant is operating in July 2009 Darwin will be one of only 15 helium production sites in the world.
“While much of the plant machinery and equipment is highly specialised, we will be maximising local content.
Other benefits for the Territory include employment during construction and the ongoing operation of the plant, extra shipping of exported helium through East Arm Port and the expansion of contracting services and supply businesses in the local area,” Isaac explained.
Northern Territory Treasurer and Infrastructure Minister, Delia Lawrie, said the new plant will make the Territory the nation’s leader in helium production.
“This is part of the Northern Territory Government’s push to diversify and strengthen our economy and develop a major gas hub in the NT. This will create more jobs and increase investment in our local economy,” Ms Lawrie said.
Isaac continued “The BOC Darwin Helium Plant puts Darwin and Australia on the world map as a new source of this rare product.
“The BOC Darwin Helium Plant is a milestone in downstream processing for the Northern Territory and demonstrates the success of the Government’s vision for growing the economy through local investment.”