Australia’s supply of urea has been addressed by a Federal Government taskforce and backed by the quarrying industry, as concerns were raised over an impending shortage.
The chemical compound is a key ingredient in the diesel exhaust fluid, AdBlue, which works to reduce emissions from diesel vehicles.
As Australia’s road haulage fleets are heavily regulated to reduce diesel emissions, the non-use of AdBlue has the potential to take thousands of trucks off our roads.
But the Federal Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor has outlined the government’s plan to mitigate any such risks.
“We are quickly and actively working to ensure supply chains of both refined urea and AdBlue are secure so that industry can have certainty on their operations,” Taylor said.
“Global supply pressures, stemming from increased domestic use in China, have led to international issues in securing refined urea, which is key to producing AdBlue. This is exacerbated by the global shortage of natural gas, the essential ingredient used to make urea.
“I can assure Australians that the government is working to ensure we do not face any shortages. We are pursuing a range of measures to address global pressures in the urea market. We will keep our trucks running and Australian motorists on the road.”
The government’s new AdBlue Taskforce, led by Minister Taylor will include a range of experts from around Australia’s supply chain.
These include Manufacturing Australia chair James Fazzino; former Dow Chemical Company chairman and chief executive officer, Andrew Liveris; and Australia’s chief scientist Cathy Foley.
Cement, Concrete & Aggregates Australia (CCAA) chief executive officer Ken Slattery told Quarry he had full faith in the Taskforce to ensure Australian supply chains.
“It’s a pretty impressive working group and I’d be surprised if they can’t sort things out,” Slattery said
“Andrew Liveris would know more about global supply chains for chemicals than most people, having run Dow Chemical for about 20 years, so it’s all very promising.”
And while there are an increasing number of reports about Australia running dry of urea, Slattery said there wasn’t cause for concern.
“There is no doubt that people are getting a pretty nervous around the issue and there are some signs of hoarding and panic buying that’s causing restrictions in supply,” Slattery said.
“Everything we’re hearing from the government is reasonably positive. We know there are some pressures, but provided everyone is doing the right thing, there’s no reason why we should run into any difficulty.”
AdBlue can be used in a number of diesel exhaust applications, meaning a shortage would affect a range of parts to the supply chain.
But Dean Gaedtke, the chairman of the Construction Machinery and Equipment Industry Group (CMEIG) and Komatsu Australia’s executive general manager for construction, told Quarry that constant connection with suppliers and the wider supply chain would help those in the quarrying and construction sector.
“What’s important is that we don’t go into panic buying. The best thing we all can do is work closely with our suppliers to have good visibility of the supply chain,” Gaedtke said.
“As a distributor, the OEMs in earthmoving don’t consume hundreds of thousands of litres of AdBlue. But certainly our customers at the end of the supply chain might do, so that visibility is important.”
Gaedtke echoed Slattery’s calls for calm as the government did its job securing Australia’s AdBlue supply.
“Certainly last week it created a lot of concern among our customers as various media started highlighting it and the obvious concern was being able to use their equipment if they run out of AdBlue,” Gaedtke said.
“But it’s not like we’re going to burn up three months of AdBlue in just a few weeks. And we have to be careful of how much we’re stockpiling because it also has a shelf life of around 12 months.”