Our Raw Materials
Natural gas accounts for approximately 70–80 percent of the cost of ammonia manufacture.
Energy is an important issue for our business, particularly the supply of natural gas, which is used as both a raw material and an energy source in the production of ammonia. Ammonia is then used to make both our nitrogen fertilisers, such as urea and ammonium phosphates, and our major explosives product, ammonium nitrate, using chemical reactions. In Australia, access to competitively priced gas is a well-documented challenge for the manufacturing industry. IPL believes that it is essential that Australia find a solution that balances the needs of supplying gas to value-adding manufacturing with those of a strong energy export market. We will continue to work with Federal and State governments on this issue.
In the production of both single super-phosphate fertilisers (SSP) and ammonium phosphate fertilisers, we use phosphate rock, a naturally occurring mineral rock.
At our plant at Phosphate Hill in Queensland, Australia we produce ammonium phosphate fertilisers, namely mono-ammonium phosphate (MAP) and di-ammonium phosphate (DAP). This year we sourced 2,340,491 tonnes of phosphate rock for MAP and DAP from our own phosphate rock mine which is adjacent to the plant. We produced approximately 1,000,000 tonnes of ammonium phosphates. At our Portland and Geelong plants in Victoria, Australia we manufacture SSP. The composition of phosphate rock used at these plants varies according to place of origin and presents therefore with varying levels of available phosphorus, cadmium, odour and reactivity, that is, the capability of the rock to react with sulphuric acid and release available phosphorus for plant nutrition.
Our manufacturing plants are configured to produce SSP using a blend of phosphate rock from different sources thereby balancing the above factors to produce a product that meets Australia’s regulations with regard to available phosphorus. This year we produced approximately 347,400 tonnes of SSP using a blend of 144,974 tonnes of phosphate rock from a range of sources including Nauru, Vietnam, Togo, Christmas Island, and from our supplier, Phosphates de Boucraa SA, (a wholly owned subsidiary of Officè Cherifien des Phosphates), which included rock sourced from the Non Self Governing Territory of Western Sahara, with the latter comprising approximately one quarter of the rock blend used for SSP, and just 3 percent of our total rock used.
The situation regarding the Kingdom of Morocco and the status of the Non Self Governing Territory of Western Sahara is a complex one, managed under the auspices of the United Nations. We continue to monitor the ongoing developments with regard to the Non Self Governing Territory of Western Sahara. IPL has had regard to the UN Global Compact’s ten principles, OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, as well as relevant provisions of international law and Australian law. We remain satisfied that we are not in breach of either Australian law or International law, as there has been no determination by the UN or any other competent legal authority that the production and use of phosphate rock from the Non Self Governing Territory of Western Sahara is in violation of any applicable law or the Geneva Convention.
Over many years IPL has engaged in dialogue and enquiry with many parties on this matter. In particular, IPL meets periodically with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and has had discussions with Office Cherifien des Phosphates, its supplier of phosphate rock from the Non Self Governing Territory of Western Sahara, as well as with Australian ambassadors to the Kingdom of Morocco. IPL will continue to monitor this complex situation.
We use sulphuric acid in the manufacture of single superphosphate, mono-ammonium phosphate, di-ammonium phosphate and granulated ammonium sulphate, and nitric acid in the manufacture of ammonium nitrate.
We produce sulphuric acid at our Mount Isa site in Queensland, Australia. The acid is transferred to our fertiliser manufacturing plant at Phosphate Hill by a purpose built railway and used in the production of DAP and MAP fertilisers. We source additional sulphuric acid, including for our SSP plants in Victoria, Australia, from both domestic and international suppliers. We manufacture the nitric acid we use to make ammonium nitrate explosives at our nitric acid plants in Moranbah, Australia, and St Helens, Louisiana, and Cheyenne in North America.