Site preparation works at Pilbara ammonium nitrate plant underway

Site preparation works for the next phase of gas downstream processing have begun at the Yara Pilbara Nitrates technical ammonium nitrate plant in Western Australia’s Pilbara.

The new explosives plant has a projected capacity of 330,000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate and is being developed as a joint venture between Yara, Orica and Apache.

"Today marks a significant milestone for Orica and our partners in the Pilbara. It's a demonstration of our commitment to providing an efficient and secure ammonium nitrate supply to our resource sector partners. Our customers tell us this project will not only help support their current mine production but their future growth plans as well." Orica Mining Services Pilbara CEO Paul Bernhardt said.

“Detailed design of the plant is now well advanced, long lead items have been ordered and construction is scheduled to begin in March next year. The preliminary site works including the earthworks will be carried out by a Karratha-based contractor and a tender process is currently underway for the civil contract,” Yara Pilbara Nitrates CEO Mark Loquan said.

He went on to say that the Yara Pilbara Nitrate will source all 60 operational employees from the local community.

“The project will create up to 400 jobs during peak construction and employment for 60 people to operate the plant.”

The plant is being built directly across from the existing Yara Pilbara Fertilisers ammonia facility, which will provide the production inputs for the ammonium nitrate.

“This allows us to further value add to the existing downstream process with a portion of the existing ammonia product being utilised to produce technical ammonium nitrate for the local mining sector from 2015," Loquan said.

Earlier this year Australian Mining announced that Orica had signed an agreement with Yara and Apache to build an ammonium nitrate plant on WA's Burrup peninsula.

Yara will be the operator of the plant while Orica will manage sales and distribution.

Australian Mining reported the parties were aiming high for construction to start by the middle of this year.

Yara has previously sought to construct an ammonium nitrate plant in the region through a joint venture with Burrup Nitrates.

However joint venture partner Burrup attempted to block the plant, with owner Pankaj Oswal stating that "Yara has attempted to railroad me into agreeing to commence the development of the TAN plant immediately on terms proposed by Yara without consultation with me and based on inaccurate, out-of-date and inadequate information.

"I am especially disappointed because I have made plain my view that Yara is seeking to lock the Burrup TAN plant in on its terms in order to make my BHL shares less attractive to other buyers."

Earlier this month Incitec Pivot announced that it was cancelling its plans for a new explosives manufacturing plant in Western Australia.

In 2010 the manufacturer told Australian Mining that a prefeasibility study was underway for the $800 million, 350 000 tonne per annum ammonium nitrate plant in the Burrup Peninsula, near Yara's planned plant.

It withdrew its applications for environmental approvals and ended its ongoing feasibility studies.

A company spokesperson yesterday stated that it "does not wish to proceed further with the Dampier Nitrogen ammonium nitrate project".

However it will still go ahead with plans to build a $40 million emulsion plant in Port Hedland.

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