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Future of helium development in Saskatchewan looks bright

Greg Robb, president and CEO, explained that helium gas is used in many high-tech applications — not just for helium balloons.

MANKOTA - Though it’s widely believed that there’s a world-wide shortage of the inert gas known as helium, several modern helium exploration companies believe this not to be true. Helium Evolution Incorporated is one of those companies. They believe strongly that there’s an abundance of helium right here in southern Saskatchewan, just waiting to be extracted, processed, and distributed world-wide.

Helium Evolution Incorporated from Calgary, Alta., was conceived and created in March of 2020, incorporated in January of 2021 and went public in March of 2022.

Ten company officials from the newly formed Helium Evolution corporation arrived in Mankota on Saturday, June 25, to tell their story. Approximately 100 interested people showed up to hear what they had to say.

The afternoon’s activities began at noon with a company sponsored barbecue. Hot dogs, hamburgers, chips, coffee, tea, juice, and soft drinks were served to the hungry crowd. Shortly after 1 p.m., Greg Robb, president and CEO, began an informative 15-minute presentation, followed by a 20-minute question-and-answer period. John Kanderka, VP of Land and Corporate Development, announced a $5,000 corporate donation for new equipment to the Mankota 4-H Club, along with two $1,500 donations to the Mankota and Glentworth Community halls.

In his presentation, Robb explained that helium gas is used in many high-tech applications — not just for helium balloons. It’s used in the creation of microchips, fibre optics, and as a coolant in medical MRI machines. It’s also the essential agent used to purge spaceship propulsion tanks of all possible explosive materials before astronauts are thrust into outer space. Helium dirigibles are currently being considered as an alternative method of air transportation between Vancouver, B.C., and Seattle, Wash.

Early on the morning of their Mankota presentation, Helium Evolution began drilling their first helium gas well near Glentworth. Five more wells are planned before the end of this year. Numerous wells will be drilled again next year, and a helium liquification plant — the only one in Canada — is planned within the next two or three years. According to Robb, it will most likely be built in the Swift Current area. The Saskatchewan Research Council is currently researching and studying its viability.

Brad Wall, former Premier of Saskatchewan, sits on Helium Evolution’s Board of Directors and is a special government advisor to the company. According to Robb, the current Saskatchewan government is actively encouraging his company to accelerate their expansion plans and move forward in a judicious and timely manner.

In an interview with this reporter, Robb stated that, besides workers and personnel on the ground, there will be a field office established somewhere in the McCord-Glentworth-Mankota region. Said Robb, “We’re excited [about] what the future holds for this area. There’s a wonderful upside to [our] exploration and expansion plans, not only for this area, but also for the province of Saskatchewan. It’s our hope to contribute to the economic well-being of the area, by providing jobs and a factory/plant to extract and process helium gas for world-wide distribution. We’re also really excited about the creation of Canada’s first liquification plant here in the province. This [proposed] facility will make Saskatchewan a world-class player on the world stage in the not too distant future.”

Robb concluded, “We strongly believe there’s enough helium gas here in southern Saskatchewan to provide jobs and huge economic benefits for the next 15-25 years.”