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Massive Reserve of Helium Found by Minnesota Exploratory Drill, Likely the Biggest Find Ever in North America

A new find of underground helium in Minnesota could turn out to be one of the largest in the world, Minneapolis’s WCCO-TV reported Thursday.

The drill site, just outside Babbitt in the northeastern part of the state, took about a month from initially breaking ground to get to a depth of 2,200 feet.

What it found there, Pulsar Helium CEO Thomas Abraham-James called “a dream.”

“There was a lot of screaming, a lot of hugging and high fives. It’s nice to know the efforts all worked out and we pulled it off,” Abraham-James told WCCO.

He said that the concentration of helium sampled was 12.4 percent — about 30 times what the outlet referred to as “the industry standard,” and higher even than the company had forecast.

“12.4% is just a dream,” the CEO told the outlet. “It’s perfect.”

Further analysis remains to be done, of course, but the finding confirmed work completed in 2011 that indicated the presence of helium deep under the surface, the Duluth News Tribune reported.

Companies generally pursue helium concentrations above 0.3 percent that they can locate, the outlet noted.

“So now the real hard begins to find out what is it truly that we have and the size of the prize,” Abraham-James told the News Tribune.

Studying the size of the find and the feasibility of a full-sized mining operation could take up to a year, the company told WCCO.

The Topez Project, as the drill site is called, was initially planned to go to a depth of 2,250 feet, but had to stop earlier than expected because of “abnormally warm temperatures and looming road weight restrictions,” according to the paper.

A device that looks like a “glorified fire hydrant,” according to Abraham-James, will now be installed over the hole to allow for additional sampling and testing.

A crew from Duluth Metals in 2011 first discovered helium in the area when searching for platinum-palladium metals, the News Tribune reported.

Helium is valued for everything from filling balloons to being used as a safe and effective coolant in liquid form.

“It’s used in everything from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines, semiconductor manufacturing and leak testing, to air tanks for medical patients and deep-sea divers, to aerospace and defense industries,” the News Tribune notes.

“This is outstanding news for the region as we continue to look at ways to diversify our local economy,” Republican state Rep. Roger Skraba said in a statement. “I look forward to working with state regulators to make sure that helium drilling can proceed here in Northern Minnesota safely and effectively.

“Helium is an incredibly important gas that is needed for a variety of modern products, and I am hopeful that we can source this gas and process it right here in the Northland in the very near future,” he added.

READ 11 COMMENTS
  • karma says:

    I sound very dignified when I inhale helium. 🙂

  • RP says:

    Let’s sell it ALL to Russia and China then! **BIG eye roll**

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