Mineral Resources:

Meeting Federal Needs for Helium

T-RCED-93-44: Published: May 20, 1993. Publicly Released: May 20, 1993.

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GAO discussed the Bureau of Mines' efforts to meet the objectives of the Helium Act of 1960. GAO noted that: (1) to conserve helium, the Bureau of Mines has purchased, produced, and stored helium that would otherwise be vented into the atmosphere; (2) the Bureau estimated that, at the current rate of use, the helium remaining in storage would last until 2070; (3) the Bureau has satisfied federal needs for helium; (4) the Bureau's helium purchases and other actions have encouraged crude helium production and the development of a private helium-refining industry; (5) since 1960, the Helium Fund's debt has grown to $1.3 billion; (6) the Bureau could cover program costs and repay the program's debt by charging federal agencies with major requirements for helium a high price; (7) the helium program's debt could be eliminated without adversely affecting the federal budget; and (8) a private helium industry supplies almost 90 percent of refined U.S. helium and could meet federal needs for helium if there were no Bureau program.

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