Incitec Pivot is about to commission a $25 million new fertiliser distribution facility at Port Adelaide while also upgrading other South Australian operations at Port Lincoln and Wallaroo.
Incitec Pivot Fertilisers (IPF) will treble blending capacity at its Port Lincoln site on the Eyre Peninsula and also have changes at the Wallaroo site ready in time for the coming sowing season.
The upgrades to SA fertiliser operations come as a cloud still hangs over Incitec Pivot’s Brisbane-based Gibson Island nitrogen fertiliser plant because of Australia’s soaring energy costs.
Chairman Paul Brasher told the company’s pre-Christmas annual general meeting the Gibson Island operation was under “serious threat” if the company could not secure an economically viable gas supply when the current gas contract expires later this year.
“To this point no solution has been found,” he said.
“If we are unable to find a solution it is likely the facility will close.”
The new 17,000 square metre Port Adelaide primary distribution centre in Ocean Steamer Road replaces the big fertiliser company’s existing production storage and despatch point which has been operating for more than a century two kilometres away.
An eight month building program finished in November in time for a fit out to start and the entire site to be completed in February.
It will be equipped with state of the art facilities to handle bulk and blended fertilisers as well as capacity to apply liquid coatings like fungicides and trace elements.
IPF commissioned the first of these liquid applicators at its Oyster Cove facility in Geelong last year, mainly to apply flutriafol fungicide to planting fertilisers such as diammonium and monoammonium phosphate (DAP and MAP) and Granulock SS.
Similar units at Port Adelaide and Port Lincoln would support the growing demand for fertilisers coated with trace elements, fungicides and enhancing agents.
The Port Adelaide site provides Incitec Pivot with about 50,000 tonnes of storage space, blending and the dual liquid application system, all under one roof.
This new facility will set new standards of efficiency and streamlined service to our customers, particularly at the peak of the season
IPF’s southern region vice president, Gerard Buckle, said the new site would ensure better service and faster truck turnaround times for rural distributors, transport operators and farmers picking up their fertiliser requirements.
It would also have distinct environmental advantages, with front end loaders operating only inside the warehouse.
An automated conveyor system above each weighbridge would reduce the risk of spills.
“This new facility will set new standards of efficiency and streamlined service to our customers, particularly at the peak of the season,” Mr Buckle said.
“We appreciate customers picking up fertiliser orders want quality products, loaded safely in the fastest possible time, so they can be back on the road delivering those fertilisers,” he said.
The site has three load-out points and three weighbridges, plus two parking lanes for trucks waiting to be loaded.
Meanwhile, at Port Lincoln IPF is installing a new Ranco blending plant as part of a major upgrade.
The five-hopper blending plant should improve load-out times for blends from 70 tonnes an hour to 200t/hour enhancing capacity at the site and reducing turnaround times for Eyre Peninsula customers.
The upgrade includes a new generation applicator for applying trace elements, fungicides and other liquid coatings to a range of fertilisers.
Mr Buckle said the Geelong experience showed the applicator gave far better results and halved the time involved in treating fertilisers.
“Our staff have developed a paddle applicator which sprays and mixes the liquid simultaneously to ensure that every fertiliser granule is coated, giving far better coverage than older systems that spray fungicide over the fertiliser on a belt conveyor,” he said.
In western Queensland the company’s Phosphate Hill fertiliser production site reached 940,000 tonnes last year – within 10 per cent of the mine’s previous year record – despite production being scaled back for maintenance while global DAP prices were depressed.
New managing director, Jeanne Johns, told last month’s AGM she expected the Phosphate Hill plant’s planned “turnaround” upgrade starting in March 2018 and running until late April would be deliverable within six weeks.