WA Premier Colin Barnett welcomed the move, saying that the new ammonia plant was significant because it would create 600 construction jobs at the peak and employ 60 people when operational.
On the other side of the coin, Greens MP Robin Chapple said that industrial emissions posed a threat to indigenous rock art of which it is estimated there are two million in the area.
The project obtained state and Commonwealth environmental and Aboriginal Heritage approvals in 2011.
Work on the new facility will be completed by 2015. The plant will be built next to Burrup Fertilisers? existing ammonia hydrate plant.
The new 330,000 tonnes per year plant is to be 45 per cent owned by Orica, 45 per cent by Yara and 10 per cent by Apache. Yara is to manage the construction as well as the ongoing operation of the plant.
The project will take ammonia, produced from natural gas at the nearby Yara Pilbara Fertilisers? plant, to produce a base ingredient for explosives, which are used by the region?s iron-ore industry and other mining operations.
Orica will form and manage a distribution and marketing joint venture (JV) to distribute the ammonium nitrate and associated products and services to mining customers in the Pilbara.
?This is an extremely important project for Orica. Together with our partners, we have a clear vision for servicing the fast-growing Pilbara iron-ore market, which is being strongly embraced by our customers in the region,? said Orica MD and CEO Ian Smith.
Strong demand for industrial grade nitrate in the Pilbara was expected to exceed 10 per cent a year growth over the medium term.
Sources: Industry Search, Fat Prophets, Mining Weekly, Sydney Morning Herald, AAP