Canadian helium industry unites to ensure critical supply

Photo by National Cancer Institute
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Helium industry consortium takes centre stage to secure supply of critical mineral

Canada’s helium industry is joining forces to address the need for a consistent and long-term helium supply.

The Helium Developers Association of Canada (HeDAC), a consortium of helium companies operating in Western Canada, has been established to raise public awareness and foster collaboration between industry stakeholders and governments to secure a stable domestic helium supply. The founding members include Avanti Helium Corp., First Helium Inc., Global Helium Corp., Royal Helium Ltd., and Thor Resources Inc.

Richard Dunn
Richard Dunn

Megan Brydon
Megan Brydon

Chris Bakker
Chris Bakker
Ed Bereznicki
Ed Bereznicki

helium industry canada
Helium is used in medical devices like MRIs to semiconductor manufacturing and even space exploration
Photo by National Cancer Institute
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Richard Dunn, Executive Director of HeDAC, emphasized that the situation is urgent: “The global demand for helium is surging, but concerns about supply reliability and price volatility are mounting. … Canada is well-poised to tackle this challenge while capitalizing on the opportunity.”

While commonly associated with party balloons, helium is officially recognized as one of Canada’s “critical minerals.” It is indispensable for the development of clean and high-tech technologies, which are crucial for Canada’s future. Its applications range from medical devices like MRIs to semiconductor manufacturing and even space exploration.

Scientists and medical professionals have raised alarms regarding the uncertainty of helium supply, prompting calls for establishing a secure and sustainable national helium supply chain. Organizations such as the Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists (CAMRT), the Canadian Association of Radiologists (CAR), and the Canadian Helium Users Group (CHUG) are advocating for immediate action.

Megan Brydon, President of CAMRT, emphasized the urgency: “Helium supply challenges have consistently disrupted our operations. It is imperative for federal and provincial governments, regulatory bodies, and the industry to collaborate and ensure a stable helium supply for Canada.”

Despite being home to significant helium reserves, Canada currently contributes less than two percent to global helium production. Most of the world’s helium supply originates from the United States and politically unstable regions such as Russia, Qatar, and Algeria. The U.S. faces a dual challenge of increasing demand and diminishing supply, while geopolitical tensions have disrupted Russia’s helium export.

Canada’s helium resources are concentrated primarily in southeastern Alberta and southwestern Saskatchewan.

Helium is co-produced with nitrogen through well-established and environmentally responsible practices. According to Chris Bakker, co-chair of HeDAC: “Our nitrogen-co-produced helium is recognized as the most sustainable globally, positioning Canada uniquely to provide a long-term helium supply as the world transitions towards cleaner energy sources. Developing the helium industry represents a significant growth opportunity for Canada.”

The initiative aligns with the strategic priorities of both federal and provincial governments, according to Ed Bereznicki, also co-chair of HeDAC. “We are actively engaging with federal and provincial governments to establish the necessary policies and programs. Canada can achieve self-sufficiency in the near future and become a trusted helium supplier to other countries, including the United States.”

Saskatchewan, in particular, has ambitious plans to contribute significantly to the world’s helium supply by 2030, aiming to generate thousands of jobs and annual exports valued at up to $500 million. The potential economic benefits extend to rural and Indigenous communities, leveraging the expertise of oil and gas workers developed over a century.

Brian Jean, Minister of Energy and Minerals in Alberta, expressed enthusiasm about HeDAC’s formation, saying, “This association will provide a solid foundation for the expansion of helium development in our province. We are excited to witness the ongoing diversification of our economy, especially in such a crucial sector for Canada’s future.”

| Staff

To interview Richard Dunn, click here.

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