Explosives supplier reiterates quarry commitment

The Land and Environment Court of New South Wales recently issued a total of $768,250 in penalties to Orica in relation to seven incidents that occurred at its Kooragang Island (KI) facility in Newcastle and its Botany facility in southern Sydney.

The incidents, which took place between October 2011 and December 2011, involved leaks of ammonia, nitric acid, ammonium nitrate and an ammonium nitrate solution, hexavalent chromium and mercury vapours.

As previously reported by Quarry, the closure of the Kooragang Island facility in November 2011 due to an ammonia leak left the quarrying industry with an explosives shortage, unable to source the ammonium nitrate needed for blasting operations. The company supplies more than 50 per cent of coal mines in the Hunter Valley region as well as many other operators across Australia and overseas.

While expressing regret for the incidents, Orica executive global head of manufacturing Richard Hoggard stated the company had “come a long way” since then.{{image2-A:R-w:250}}

“The company has invested more than $200 million over the last three years delivering the largest improvement and capital upgrade program in the KI facility’s 45-year history. This is in addition to our significant investment in our people, processes and the community,” Hoggard said.

In addition to redesigning the KI facility, Orica has invested $20 million towards an ammonia management improvement program, $17 million towards upgrading computerised instrumentation and alarm systems for the site’s nitrate plants, $27 million towards the installation of new secondary containment structures and existing infrastructure to reduce the risk of pollution incidents, $10 million towards the upgrade of electrical infrastructure and $51 million towards the upgrade of plant, equipment and process vessels.

Committed to the quarry industry
An Orica spokesperson told Quarry that Orica was committed to supporting and enhancing value for its customers in the quarrying industry with the provision of differentiated products and services.

“The reliable supply of commercial explosives and blasting systems to all customers, including those in the quarry industry, is of the highest priority for Orica,” the spokesperson said. “Significant investment in improvements at the KI facility will contribute to improved continuity of supply from the site, ensuring increasingly reliable service to customers.”

The spokesperson further added that Orica was working to strengthen supply “with extensive contingency planning and a strategy of multi-point sourcing both within Australia and overseas” – good news for quarry operators that suffered when Orica struggled to put alternative supply chains in place during the KI facility’s closure in November 2011.

“The learnings from KI have been transferred globally within Orica to ensure better overall relationships with customers,” the spokesperson stated. “Orica continues to focus on helping customers with blasting challenges within their quarry operations. Through product technology and service capability, Orica is helping to overcome challenges with digging productivity, vibration control and fines reduction.”

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