Tanzania will start actual helium production in 2025 if all goes according to plan as as exploration continues to gain momentum in the Rukwa Basin, Lake Nyasa and Lake Eyasi.
Mr Justyn Wood, the Chief Executive Officer of Rocket Tanzania Limited made the announcement and said research has been conducted in the three areas in collaboration with Researchers at the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM).
This comes at a time when available data show that unrisked Prospective Recoverable Helium Resource (2U/P50) at Tanzania’s primary helium project in Rukwa stands at 138 billion cubic feet (bcf), making this the largest known primary helium deposit in the world.
In 2016, deposits estimated to be 54bcf of helium gas were discovered in Lake Rukwa, and was said to have potential to alleviate global shortages of the crucial gas that is used in medical diagnosis through MRI scanners. The US has so far been the world’s leading helium supplier with approximately 60% (24bcf) share of global supply in 2015, followed by Qatar with 24%. Algeria, Australia, Canada, Poland and Russia are also helium producing nations. However, at 54.2 billion standard cubic feet discovered in Tanzania, the country is set to be the largest supplier, according to experts.
Mr Wood noted that so far the company has spent millions of dollars on research and exploration and they are now expanding to Lake Nyasa and Lake Eyasi, noting that it is very likely that by 2025 production will have started.
“We are the biggest geologists in the world and the hopes are high, if we get to that point Tanzania will be on the map of the major producers of this gas with huge economic benefits as well,” he said.
He said the world currently depends on 40 to 50% of the gas from Russia and the ongoing situation (the Russian-Ukrainian war) is clear that demand will increase. For his part, Deputy Minister for the ministry of minerals, Dr Steven Kiruswa who witnessed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two institutions, said all the processes should involve the Geological Survey of Tanzania (GST).
“Helium is one of the most important minerals, and we continue to create a conducive environment for investment as we have planned by 2025 the contribution of the mining sector to GDP to reach 10 percent from the current 7.9%,” he said.