Vancouver, British Columbia — AFRICAN QUEEN MINES LTD. (the “Company”) is pleased to announce that its wholly-owned U.S. subsidiary DESERT ENERGY CORP (“Desert Energy”) has now acquired 12,256 acres under lease for helium, oil & natural gas from the Arizona Department of Land within the prolific Holbrook Basin of Eastern Arizona. An additional 12,041 acres of leases are pending approval. Two of the world’s richest historic producing helium gas fields, the Pinta Dome and the Navajo Springs, are situated in this region. They are noted for their exceptionally high grades of helium gas produced, ranging up to 8% and more versus the industry benchmark of 0.3% to 1% for commercial grade. As previously announced (PR January 31, 2018), Desert Energy was formed by the Company to engage in exploration and development of oil & gas and mineral properties in the Southwestern United States and will be operating as a separate division of the Company. It recently signed a definitive agreement to acquire the Kight Gilcrease Sand Unit oil & gas project in Oklahoma (PR February 19, 2018).
Helium has many unique characteristics which lend itself to diverse strategic uses in our growing high tech economy. It is a small atom, extremely mobile, with a very low boiling point and it is completely inert. It now plays a critical role in the manufacture of semiconductors, LCD panels and fibre optic cable; as a refrigerant in cryogenics research; as a coolant for nuclear reactors, MRI machines and space vehicles; as a shield gas for welding; for leak detection in high pressure piping systems; mixed with oxygen to produce a safe breathing gas for divers; and as a lighter than air lifting gas. Helium has now emerged as the” high tech rare gas” of today’s economy. Current world demand is approaching 8 Billion cubic feet of gas per year. Surging demand has caused He prices to double in the past ten years to over U.S. $164 per mcf, with many private sales at considerably higher prices. The U.S. used to account for over half of world-wide production, but has now fallen to approximately 32%, with Qatar providing approximately 25%. Other major producers include Algeria.
There is a global He shortage despite continued liquidation of helium inventories by the U.S. Government from its National Helium Reserve. Within another two-three years, that Reserve is projected to be essentially exhausted and the U.S Government will have ended decades of active involvement in the He business. That should lead to further acceleration of price increases for He commensurate with the growing demands of our high tech economy.
The leases acquired by Desert Energy in the Holbrook Basin are highly prospective for helium as well as oil & natural gas. They are situated within Coconino County in NE Arizona. The leases are characterized by a geologic anticlinal feature with multiple anhydrite cap rock and salt trapping mechanisms, analogous to those typically associated with existing He wells found in the Holbrook Basin. Helium being one of the smallest molecules, it has an inherent ability to move or migrate through almost all known rock formations such as shales and dissipate naturally. Therefore, to find it in commercial quantities there must be a series of trapping mechanisms. The draping effect of the Anhydrite and Halite layers coupled with faulting on three sides, (SW/NE on two sides and a NE/SW on the northern side,) serve to provide the trapping mechanisms on Desert Energy’s leases. These same trapping mechanisms can also serve to trap oil and other natural gases. The makeup of the reservoir rocks in this area is typically a combination of sandstone and vuggy dolomites. Relatively shallow wells of approximately 3850 ft total depth would be likely to encounter He gas from 3250 to 3450 ft in the Mississippian limestones associated with dolomites. Oil and natural gas would likely be found in the Devonian Sands between 3700 and 3800 ft.
Helium has two potential sources, primordial (i.e., part of the original formation of the Earth), or radioactive decay of Uranium and Thorium in the Earth’s crust. Both mechanisms could potentially have contributed to the presence of He in the Holbrook Basin. Most production of He in the United States is derived from natural gas fields. It is initially processed as a crude Helium product, which varies from 50% to 80% He, and is ultimately purified into a Grade-A He product which is 99.995% or better. Most He is shipped as liquid to distribution centers in trucks where it is sold as bulk liquid helium, then gasified and compressed into tanks or small cylinders for delivery to end users.
According to Irwin Olian, CEO of the Company, “We are very excited to have acquired strategic leases in Arizona’s Holbrook Basin for helium, oil and natural gas. As an early mover among junior explorers in the He space in one of the world’s greatest addresses for helium, the Company is well positioned to participate in future growth of He in our high tech economy.”
About African Queen
The Company is an exploratory resource company engaged in exploration and development of mineral properties in Canada. In addition, its wholly-owned U.S. subsidiary Desert Energy Corp. is engaged in exploration and development of oil and gas and mineral properties in the Southwestern United States. The Company has recently been focusing on development of its Yellowjacket Gold Project in Atlin, British Columbia, which covers an aggregate of approximately 291.54 km2. The Company has its executive offices in Vancouver, Canada. The Company was incorporated under the laws of the Province of British Columbia, Canada, on April 30, 2008, and received certain southern African assets in a spin off transaction related to the acquisition of Pan African Mining Corp. by Asia Thai Mining Co., Ltd.
We seek Safe Harbor.
On Behalf of the Board of Directors of African Queen Mines Ltd.
Chairman & CEO
For more information, contact:
President and CEO
Dubai: +971 55 997 0427
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U.K.: +44 (0) 870 490 5443
The TSX Venture Exchange has not reviewed and does not accept responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of the content of the information contained herein. The statements made in this press release may contain certain forward-looking statements that involve a number of risks and uncertainties. Actual events or results may differ from the Company’s expectations.