South African startup uncovers a treasure trove of billions of dollars of helium
The Virginia region of South Africa’s Free State province has become the focus of attention thanks to an unexpected discovery – a helium stockpile that could have a significant impact on the market for the rare gaseous element. News that the startup Renergen has discovered huge reserves of helium has raised the eyebrows of many experts and companies involved in this special element.
The whole story began back in 2013 when Renergen bought the rights to mine and explore grass fields near Virginia. One of the most interesting aspects of this discovery is the way the company found out about it. During exploratory drilling, which was originally intended to search for minerals, two rusted drill pipes were discovered and began leaking gas. This gas contained an unexpectedly high concentration of helium, surprising even the industry’s biggest skeptics.
Nick Mitchell, CEO of Renergen, expressed great surprise at the discovery of helium. “We had no idea of the extent of this helium deposit and its world-class quality,” Mitchell told CNN. The discovery has opened up new possibilities for the use of helium, which has many industrial and scientific applications.
Helium is known as an inflatable balloon filler, but its importance is much broader. Condensed helium is used as a basic cooling component in the manufacture of microchips and is essential for the operation of magnetic resonance technologies. However, the global market for this substance suffers from price volatility and irregular supply, as it is only mined in fewer than ten countries.
Renergen claims to have proven reserves of helium worth between four and twelve billion dollars in the Virginia Gas Project. After successfully producing liquid helium last year, the company is about to begin commercial operations. Their plans include extracting helium along with natural gas, processing it and distributing it to customers such as global engineering company Linde.
This discovery has the potential to significantly change the current helium market and bring new applications for this rare gas in science, industry and technology. With the expected start of commercial operation, increased attention and interest from companies operating in these areas is also expected.
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