World’s first modular ammonium nitrate plant opens in Western Australia

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The Yara Pilbara Nitrates technical ammonium nitrate (TAN) manufacturing plant was officially opened on Tuesday, heralding the next generation of downstream processing in the resource rich Pilbara region of Western Australia.

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Developed in a joint venture by Yara International ASA and Orica Limited, the plant will have an annual capacity to produce 330,000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, which is the main component of explosives used in the mining, quarrying and construction industries.

The Yara and Orica joint venture facility, which is fully integrated with the neighbouring Yara Pilbara Fertilisers ammonia plant, was officially opened by WA Premier Colin Barnett at a ceremony that marked the completion of the plant’s construction phase.

Yara International President and CEO Svein Tore Holsether described the achievement as “exciting development” in the company’s growth strategy in Australia.

“Yara’s decision to go further downstream into AN production in the Pilbara reflects the long term value we see for our business in Australia and also the proximity of both Yara Pilbara operations to important Asia Pacific markets,” Mr Holsether said.

“We are using Western Australian gas to first create a highly valued product, ammonia, and then undertake further processing to deliver a crucial material for the mining and civil works sector,” Mr Holsether said.

Orica CEO Alberto Calderon said the plant’s strategic location in one of the world’s great mining regions would deliver multiple benefits to the JV partners.

“Ideally situated in the Pilbara, the plant will deliver a local source of ammonium nitrate, improve Orica’s overall responsiveness to customers’ needs, and deliver increased security of supply for our customers across the region,” Mr Calderon added.

“Ammonium nitrate from the plant will underpin predicted growth across the Pilbara mining sector. As such, this is a strategic, long term investment for Orica.”

Under the JV agreement between the two parties, Yara will operate the plant and Orica will manage sales and distribution of the product.

The Yara Pilbara Nitrates plant is the first in the world to be built using modularised construction. It will have 70 operational employees and all will live with their families in the nearby community of Karratha.

The plant, which is expected to be operational by the end of 2016, utilises the latest technology and design to minimise its environmental footprint, resulting in a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.