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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Testing of Pulsar helium deposit near Babbitt continues

Catie Clark
Posted 4/11/24

BABBITT- Those who missed the tours of the helium exploration southeast of Babbitt in February now have a chance to see the drill site on video. The Reuters news syndicate published a short …

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Testing of Pulsar helium deposit near Babbitt continues


BABBITT- Those who missed the tours of the helium exploration southeast of Babbitt in February now have a chance to see the drill site on video. The Reuters news syndicate published a short documentary on Pulsar’s helium projects last Friday, April 5.
The video was produced by Acumen International Media and went live online on the Reuters Plus Global Health channel. The seven-minute video includes five minutes of footage at Pulsar’s Topaz project southeast of Babbitt off the Dunka River Rd. The video discusses the industrial uses of helium and Pulsar’s exploration goals to produce “primary helium,” which is not a by-product of natural gas wells. Most of the helium historically produced in the world is extracted from fossil fuel production.
The Acumen visited the Topaz site when drilling began in February. “This was the film crew that visited the same day that we gave the media and public tours,” Pulsar CEO Thomas Abraham-James told the Timberjay.
The video is online at

Other Pulsar news
Pulsar received the results from their wireline survey of the exploratory borehole, which they hope to convert into a production well if they advance to developing the local helium resource. The wireline results confirmed what last summer’s seismic tomography survey had already suggested: that the Precambrian Duluth Complex rocks penetrated by the borehole host significant gas-filled voids. The geophysical firm Baker-Hughes collected the data for Pulsar at the end of February. Pulsar announced a favorable interpretation of the data on March 25.
In exploration jargon, a wireline survey is a set of geophysical measurements made by lowering a suite of sensors called sondes on a electrical cable—or wire—down a well or borehole. The sondes can measure a wide variety of physical conditions in the hole like temperature, rock density, rock porosity, background radiation, electric resistivity, and seismic velocity, just to name some of the more common properties assessed.
According to Abraham-James, the next step for Pulsar is to test the rate of gas flow out of the borehole. The flow test will be one of the deciding factors in whether Pulsar will advance to building a helium production facility southeast of Babbitt. Though the geophysical results suggest a lot of gassy void spaces under the ground, those voids must be sufficiently linked to ensure gas flow—a property called effective porosity. Though the geophysics suggests there are enough voids which are filled with gas, only the flow test can confirm whether the effective porosity is sufficiently high to justify the construction of the $50 million helium plant.

Legislating helium
Meanwhile, in St. Paul, it was no great surprise that the state senator whose district includes Babbitt initiated legislation to regulate Minnesota’s nascent helium industry.  Sen. Grant Hauschild (DFL-Hermantown) introduced bill SF 5048 on March 18 that aims to set up a technical advisory committee to create state regulations for the “long-term oversight” of Minnesota’s geologic gas commodities. The committee would be required to report their findings to the Legislature by Jan. 15, 2025. The bill also directs the Department of Natural Resources to require permits for gas extraction, including non-hydrocarbon gasses like helium. It also includes provisions regulating leases for carbon sequestration and oil and gas exploration and production on state lands.
SF 5048 received its first hearing in the Senate Environment, Climate, and Legacy Committee on April 4. It received a recommendation “to pass as amended” by the committee and was referred for further action to the Senate State and Local Government and Veterans Committee on Monday.
“The discovery of [the helium] deposit is an exciting opportunity for northern Minnesota to once again become a domestic source for a critical mineral, and this legislation makes sure the state is ready to capitalize,” said Hauschild. “Now it is up to us as policymakers to move with urgency, get this legislation passed, and prepare for the future work we need to do to make Minnesota a global leader in helium extraction.”