Custom Search

 

Commentary/feedbackWhy Australia's chemical industry collapsed. Government ineptitude blamed. Australia has no strategy unlike other countries. State governments blame federal government for failing to provide (subsidies) to compensate for workable strategies.

 
bullet

Biofuels, ethanol and biodiesel and developments in Australia

News headlines and links

bullet

Biofuels fail (5 Nov 2007)

bullet

Dow closes its polystyrene plant (Jan 2007)

bullet

Huntsman sells polyesters business to Nuplex (Jan 2007)

bullet

Orica sells its adhesives business to Hexion (Nov 2006

bullet

Ethanol and biodiesel, taxpayer funded assistance to the rural sector

bullet

Coode Island echo of firefighter illness (June 2006)

bullet

Incitec Pivot purchases Southern Cross Fertiliser (May 2006)

bullet

Orica sells its interest in Incitec Pivot (May 2006)
World's largest greenfield ammonia plant begins production (April 2006)

bullet

Australian Global Ethanol buys US ethanol plant (April 2006)

bullet

Rhodia's Pinjarra plant not to process the rare earths to be produced at Mt Weld (Feb 2006)

bullet

Dow closes its polyol (from imported propylene oxide) production units (Jan 2005)

bullet

Two decades since closure, pollution from Union Carbide plant leads to ban on commercial fishing in Sydney Harbour. (Jan 2006)

bullet

Wesfarmers to double ammonium nitrate capacity to 470 000 tpa at Kwinana WA  by mid 2007 (Nov 2005)

bullet

Subsidised ethanol plant for Queensland (November 2005)

bullet

Qenos sold to Chinese plastics business (October 2005)

bullet

On-going sugar industry support with ethanol subsidies (October 2005)

bullet

Orica purchases 40 per cent of Dyno to represent one-quarter of the world's explosives industry. (August 2005)

bullet

Ticor closes sodium cyanide plant (April 2004)

bullet

Orica to further expand ammonium nitrate production at Yarwun (near Gladstone). (March 2004)

bullet

Kemerton, 14 years on, government fails to attract industry with power plant announcement (Jan 2004)

bullet

Moomba gas fire impacts on industry (Jan 2004)

bullet

WA Government gas regulator publishes tariffs for WA gas line to value gas line at one-third less than purchase price (Dec 2003)

bullet

Qenos extends ethane supply contract from 2006 to 2010 (December 2003)

bullet

Tasmania supplies one-half the world's legal narcotics (October 2003)

bullet

Methanol project by GTL remains prospective with government assistance (October 2003)

bullet

Methanol investment project by Methanex cancelled (September 2003)

bullet

Another ethanol plant (Indcor for Swan Hill), (September 2003)

bullet

BHP-Billiton  HBI direct reduced iron project at Port Hedland improves. (September 2003)

bullet

Orica purchases Yates seeds and fertiliser business for A$45m (September 2003)

bullet

Burrup Fertilisers on track to produce ammonia (September 2003)

bullet

Orica purchases interest in Welvic, a plastic compounding business (July 2003)

bullet

A$47m federal government assistance for ethanol production from sugar cane (July 2003)

bullet

Orica acquires engineering plastics division of Qenos; wishing to sell loss making Qenos (July 2003)

bullet

EGL awarded contract for Coode Island storage in Victoria (July 2003)

bullet

On-going moves to promote safer chemicals - British Royal Commission. (July 2003)

bullet

AMC's magnesium project mothballed seeking new venturers to stay afloat, no additional funds from Federal Government (June 2003)

bullet

Methanex Australia rekindles methanol project with gas supply contract (May 2003)

bullet

Queensland's Australian Magnesium Corporation project in doubt, South Australia's project defends itself. (May 2003)

bullet

Methanol Australia proceeds to front-end engineering and design (May 2003)

bullet

Orica writes down the value of its Qenos partnership to zero (May 2003)

bullet

Orica's Yarwun ammonium nitrate plant expanded from 240 000 to 280 000 tpa capacity (April 2003).

bullet

Port Stanvac oil refinery to close in South Australia (April 2003)

bullet

Orica purchases balance of explosives initiator IES (April 2003)

bullet

GTL Resources confirms methanol project for WA (March 2003)

bullet

Methanex "defers" the methanol project in WA. (March 2003)

bullet

Australian Silicon suspends trading on stock exchange - pressure from environmentalists (March 2003)

bullet

Vanadium Australia ceases operation. (Dec 2002)

bullet

Orica comes to agreement to purchase balance of Incitec (Jan 2003)

bullet

Incitec announces intention to invest in nitric acid plant at Newcastle. (Dec 2003)

bullet

The federal government agency DIST releases its Action Agenda (December 2002)

bullet

Symex acquires soap manufacturer. (December 2002)

bullet

Potential new ethanol producers with Indcor purchase from Multiplex (December 2002)

bullet

LaTrobe Magnesium feasibility study to produce magnesium from fly ash (Dec. 2002)

bullet

Acquisition of Incitec by Orica rejected (October 2002)

bullet

Orica and Nurfarm exchance Fernz Specialty Chemicals for Orica's CropCare (Sept 2002)

bullet

Incitec to merge with Pivot and Orica purchases industrial chemicals assets of Incitec (August 2002)

bullet

Monsanto to close its glyphosate synthesis plant in September 2002

bullet

Chemeq commences 20 tonne pa polyacrolein plant in WA (July 2002.

bullet

Nuplex buys outstanding shares in APS (July 2002)

bullet

WMC phosphate plant reputed to be for sale (July 2002)

bullet

Orica's agricultural divisions under review (July 2002)

bullet

Symex sells it shareholding in APS, raising prospect for Nuplex takeover of APS (July 2002)

bullet

Shorko Australia sold to Dor Chemicals (July 2002)

bullet

Shale oil project signs contract with refiner helping secure stage 1 of development (July 2002)

bullet

Plenty River urea/ammonia project in WA sold to international consortium (May 2002)

bullet

Greenpeace initiatives undermines Queensland's shale oil project to sell its naphtha and oil production on the Australian market. (May 2002)

bullet

Shell announced that while it included Australia as one of five sites being investigated worldwide to commercialise its GTL technology, it now rankes third or fourth after Qatar. (May 2002) 

bullet

Nuplex bids over Symex to acquire APS (May 2002)

bullet

Monsanto's glyphosate herbicide to be exclusively distributed through Nufarm (May 2002).

bullet

Rio Tinto confirms iron plant for WA with government assistance (April 2002) 

bullet

Dumping finding on flexible slabstock polyols (hurting Dow) (April 2002) (Dumping notes)

bullet

VSP Industries in hands of receiver manager (April 2002)

bullet

Symex to acquire APS (April 2002)

bullet

GTL Resources obtains bank finance and government assistance to establish a 1 million tonne project in WA (March 2002)

bullet

Burrup Fertiliser receives EPA approval to commence ammonia plant construction (Feb 2002)

bullet

Wesfarmers may sell its fertiliser division unless it achieves target return. (Feb 2002)

bullet

A corn starch derived replacement for plastic into commercial production? (Feb 2002)

bullet

SAMAG aims to be lowest cost magnesium producer in the world. (January 2002)

bullet

GTL Resources, second methanol investor for WA in response to Australia seen as lowest cost production centre. (January 2002)

bullet

Australian Vinyls Corporation finally sold after substantial write-downs. (January 2002).

bullet

Another methanol starter in the North West of WA, GTL Resources (January 2002)

bullet

Cawse nickel project sells to OMG for 3 per cent of cost (December 2001)

bullet

Government assistance for methanol project for WA (December 2001)

bullet

Gas to Tasmania at last (December 2001)

bullet

Australia now very competitive, scoring 38 against Japan at 100, USA, Germany, UK at 66. (Dec 2001)

bullet

Campbell Brothers expands into laboratory services worldwide. (Dec 2001)APS Chemicals to become subsidiary of Symex Holdings (November 2001)

bullet

Orica shedding 800 jobs in effort to stem losses (November 2001).

bullet

Government assistance for alumina production involves R&D requirement (October 2001)

bullet

Australian Silicon Ltd. Quaestus takes over silicon metal project (October 2001)

bullet

Coal to liquids project for Victoria? (October 2001)

bullet

Mt Weld Rare Earth project bought by Lynas Gold (October 2001)

bullet

AGR to produce solid form of sodium cyanide. (September 2001)

bullet

Orica pushes its MIEX ion exchange resin (September 2001)

bullet

Coode Island still a problem for chemical industry (September 2001)

bullet

Wesfarmers, voted most admired company in Australia (September 2001)

bullet

Pilot plant expansion at AuIron in South Australia (August 2001)

bullet

Doubts remain over BHP Billiton's DRI plant. (August 2001)

bullet

Australia increasingly attractive to invest. (August 2001)

bullet

Methanol Australia now reviewing an off-shore methanol production plant, 300 km north of Darwin (August 2001)

bullet

Shell assessing building a floating LNG project in competition with Phillips Petroleum (August 2001)

bullet

AMC receives A$200 million in federal and state government funding (August 2001)

bullet

AMC's Magnesium metal project fails to float (July 2001)

bullet

Quaestus purchases the Portman silicon metal project in New South Wales (July 2001)

bullet

Queensland's shale oil production successful (July 2001)

bullet

Dampier Salt acquires Cargill Salt's Port Hedland operations (July 2001)

 

MTBE content restriction for gasoline also serves to reduce import competition for local refineries. Short phase in period (2004) of concern for ACCC. (July 2001)

Magnesia project for WA? (June 2001)

Iluka closes lime plant at Dongara WA (July 2001)

Memorandum of Understanding to develop the Dow/Shell chloralkali project in the NW of Western Australia expires. Shell abandons (June 2001)

Magnesium race - Samag in South Australia takes a step closer (June     2001)

Another ammonia plant for WA with Indian interests? Oswal Fertilisers intends to build world's largest ammonia plant as Burrup Fertilisers. (June 2001)

Dimethyl ether plant for NW of Western Australia? (June 2001)

Sodium chlorate plant proposed for New South Wales. (May 2001)

Anaconda Nickel still on track for operating costs falling to US$1.00 per pound (May 2001)

Magnesium investment. Golden Triangle renames, Magnesium Corp seeking funds and Mt Grace Resources signs 10 000 tpa deal. (May 2001).

Orica profit slide continues (May 2001).

Liquefied gas expansion announced - but no talk of ethane extraction (April 2001)

Gallium plant to reopen in WA after mothballed for four years? (April 2001)

What the Steering Group in the Action Agenda on Chemicals is recommending to Government (Feb 2001)

Methanex's methanol plant key to Darwin LNG project (Feb 2001). March 2001, East Timor Authority now key to 3 mtpa plant.

Coal bed methane interest growing. (Feb 2001)

US 1.0 to 1.5 cent per kilowatt hour power for aluminium smelter in Queensland (Feb 2001)

No funding for chemical industry Cooperative Research Centres (Jan 2001)

Moran oil field ceases production in PNG, puts cloud over PNG to Qld gas line (Jan 2001)

Generous government assistance to General Motors - signals capacity for Government to assist targeted industry (December 2000)

Campbell Bros sells its soap manufacturing business to Faulding Healthcare for A$5 million (Dec 2000).

BHP's DRI project still running on fine production cost margins (Dec 2000)

Orica's debt rating reduced by Standard & Poors (Dec 2000).

Magnesium race in Australia firms up with South Australia's Samag project signing off-take agreement (November 2000).

Qenos closes 1961 vintage 50 000 tonne LDPE plant and 20 000 SBR rubber plants 

Falling alumina prices undermines confidence in the Comalco alumina plant in Qld. Failure would weaken the PNG gas line (Nov 2000)

Orica increasingly focussing on explosives and remains on acquisition trail with increasing gearing prospective (October 2000).

Vanadium price collapse; Precious Metals Australia sells out to partner Xstrata. (October 2000).

For historians: CSR concentrates on building products selling its sugar mills and so ending the driver that created CSR Chemicals - one of only two Australian chemical synthesis companies. (October 2000)

Shell invests in 75 000 bbl/d Gas to Liquids plants around the world - Australia with possible 10 000 bbl/d Syntroleum venture (October 2000)

WMC ammonium phosphate project experiences technical hitches with full production achieved 9 months after commissioning (October 2000)

A$170 million hydrogen plant in Queensland. (October 2000)

Fragmented oil refining industry signals low profitability (October 2000)

Australian Bureau of Statistics overview of manufacturing (Sept 2000)

Government policy on greenhouse gas (for LNG). (September 2000)

Methanex seeks 15 per cent government moneys to assist methanol project in Northern Territory. (September 2000)

Plenty River signs MoU with North West Shelf for 600 000tpa ammonia and 800 000tpa urea project (with 200 000 ammonia for export) - 70Tj/day (~500 000 tonnes pa) gas for 20 years. The project anticipated to begin 2003. (Sept 2000). Congratulations to Plenty River! 

Orica - a company that has demonstrated its capacity: Explosives and detonator manufacturing acquisitions. 

Two LaRoche Industries ammonium nitrate plants in the USA

Dynamit Nobel AG, a division of MG Technologies AG supplier of explosives, and importantly for Orica, of detonators. (August 2000). Refer our ammonium nitrate and explosives report.

North West Shelf gas signs MoU with Austeel to supply 315 gigajoules of gas per day (2.2 million tonnes per year). (August 2000). Implications on ethane supply in WA. (Start up 2003?)

Wesfarmers reported as reviewing interest in purchase of Orica. Wesfarmers once offered to purchase ICI Australia before becoming Orica (August 2000)

Pacific Dunlop considering closure of tyre business in favour of imports. If that happens that would leave partner Goodyear as sole major rubber consumer in Australia (August 2000) Implications on synthetic rubber market for Qenos?

Ferrovanadium production for WA? (May 2000)

Zero tariffs for Australia? Productivity Commission recommends zero rate. (May 2000)

Ammonia plants begin in Kwinana WA (after commissioning problems) and in Moura in Queensland (May 2000)

Coogee Chemicals to acquire BHP's methanol project in Victoria. (May 2000)

Methanol for the Northern Territory? (May 2000).

Methanex withdraws from Syntroleum Sweetwater project in WA. (May 2000)

HISmelt to locate pig iron plant in the USA - sights importance of steel outlet for not establishing in Western Australia (May 2000).

A$350 million (25 per cent of cost) of government money buys prospect for a A$1 400 million alumina refinery in Queensland (April 2000).

Timor Sea Petroleum may build Australia's first world-scale methanol plant. (March 2000)

US$0.7 billion magnesium metal production in Qld to go ahead in 2001 (March 2000). 

Exports surge for inorganic chemicals and synthetic resins in secondary or worked forms. Exports have doubled compared to imports in 10-year period to end 1999.

Federal Government sets up an Action Agenda on Chemicals DISR site. Also Opinions

BHP pressing on with proposed 730 000 tpa urea project in Victoria and seeking a new partner (March 2000)

New synthetic hydrocarbon plant for NW WA? A$100 million assistance provided including $30 million from the Federal Government for technology license and $40m to support R&D.  (Feb 2000). A similar scale diesel project for Esperance based on lignite? (March 2000)

R&D in Australia's chemical industry is just 1 per cent of sales.

Assistance for the petroleum industry? (Jan 2000)

A$545 M investment for an equally-owned joint venture in Victoria of BHP and Incitec for production of ammonia (450,000 tpa) and urea (800,000 tpa) not viable (Dec 1999) .

Kemcor and its new joint venture in polyethylenes with Orica, is named Qenos. (1 October 1999) Orica had already closed its polypropylene business selling propylene to Basell at Clyde doublings its scale to 170 000 tonnes though question mark hangs over the Clyde refinery.

Because the support forthcoming from the government of Western Australia is not as generous as anticipated, Shell Chemicals is believed to be contemplating withdrawing from its joint venture with Dow Chemical at Pilbara. (Asian Chemical News, Vol. 5, No. 220, June 1999).

Anaconda likely to acquire dominant interest in Bulong nickel production.

Mineral sands (titanium minerals zircon and rutile) boom in Murray Basin of Victoria and New South Wales. Likely to become world's largest. See rutile

Investment incentive to Queensland alumina producer undermines is arguably not in the national interest.

Anaconda Nickel signed a letter of intent with Wesfarmers (Western Australia)  to jointly develop a phosphate fertiliser project near the Murrin Murrin nickel project. It aims to replace the A$200 million of phosphate rock imported by Western Australia. See phosphates.

Closures pending. "With largely depreciated assets, these facilities can continue operation until a decision for significant investment is required. At that point the overwhelming economic reality of import from world-scale manufacturing operations may likely cause closure of the local operation."

Role for government: CEO PACIA at second Australian Chemicals Summit

Cussons, Australia's largest soap manufacturer, has defied the trend of re-locating off-shore (eg. Lever and Kitchen) by opening a $18 mill factory in Dandenong, Vic which will more than double the company's soap production capacity from 12 kt to 28 kt/year.

Theiss buys Total Energy to enter explosives market.

Magnesium metal investment boom.

BOC, the world's second largest industrial gases group has agreed to US$10 bn takeover by Air Liquide (AL, France) and Air Products (AP, USA). AL to own UK, Irish, Australian and NZ operations of BOC (July 1999)

Performance of chemical companies that are members of PACIA (July 1999)

House of Representatives inquiry into increasing value-adding to Australian raw materials. July 1999

Trade performance by State by industry sector - policy implications! (for 1997 and 1998)

Australia's chemical industry's trade performance. Plateaud mid 90's, falls 1998 (July 1999)

Pilbara Petchem a tentative step closer? Larger scale but returns only fair (June 1999)

Magnesium metal boom? Australia set to become major supplier

Orica's thrust to become a world class explosive's company continues with JV with India's ICI India (June'99)

PNG-Qld A$3.5bn gasline a step closer with entry of Exxon (April 99)

ACCC regulatory body approves joint venture of Orica and Kemcor in polyethylenes, polypropylene and SB and SBR elastomers (April 1999)

Dow/Shell announce Pilbara Petchem Project hinged on expansion at NW Shelf (export probably not until 2003-2005) and domestic from BHP's HBI project. (Ie. not enough ethane available from domestic supply so limiting its scale). (April 1999)

Plenty River Corporation has MoU with Indian Chambal F&C Ltd. Plans ammonia and urea project in NW Western Australia. Is it likely to beat the PPP? Could it stimulate other activities and help the PPP (and methanol and soda ash?) (March 1999)

Orica to build chloralkali plant at Laverton North to replace Yarraville unit - due for completion in 2000.

Shell's sale of 50 per cent interest in Basell.(March 1999)

Coal bed methane to fuel ammonia/urea/ammonium nitrate plant in Queensland? (Feb 1999)

BHP to evaluate amonia/urea plant for Victoria (Dec 1998)

Woodside abandons xylenes project in NW WA (Dec 1998)

Orica sells surfactants (ethoxylates) business at Botany NSW to Huntsman Corporation (Dec 1998)

Abandoned refinery mergers - portend to closures or Australia's ACCC is misguided? (January 1999)

Orica aims to buy 26.7 per cent of ammonia, ammonium nitrate manufacturer Incitec not already owned valuing company at A$670 million. Orica to focus on 1. mining services, 2. agricultural chemicals, 3. chemicals and 4 consumer products.

Will WMC build an ammonium nitrate plant integrated with their DAP project in Queensland? (Update - no!)

Nickel - booming based on new technology, using cheaper ores and in dry and environmentally safe areas to send nickel (and cobalt prices down. Are the three takeover targets?

Magnesium - two starters (room for one?), Tasmania and Queensland to dominate world supply (October 1998)

Gas explosion at Longford shuts down 80% of Altona's operations (September 1998)

Orica sells technical coatings operations to US PPG Industries (August 1998)

The First Australian Chemicals Summit (August 1998)

WMC phosphate fertiliser marketing partners (August 1998)

ICI changes mind - no sale of its shareholding in Australian Vinyls (July 1998)

Titanium mineral producer RGC to merge with Westralian Sands (July 98)

Basell sells off polypropylene film business (July 98)

Refinery expansion by BP at Bulwer Qld (July 98)

We suggest the Pilbara project requires another ethylene application to achieve scale benefits (July)

Unconscionability - new trade practices legislation for dealings if big with small business (July)

Australia's oil refineries to merge and close? (July)

Imdex Chemicals renamed to Ciba Specialty Chemicals (July)

Dow Shell consortium wins right to develop petchem project in WA

Anti-dumping investigation period to be shortened

Orica to sell its share holding in Australian Vinyls Corp. (May)

Orica to become minority shareholder in merged polyethylene business with Kemcor (May)

Aluminium fluoride plant for Western Australia (February).

Gas line sold in Western Australia - cheaper gas to result (February)

Ammonium nitrate plant confirmed for Queensland (February)

Orica shelves cyanide plant for Kalgoorlie (February)

Ammonia for the Pilbara? (February)

ICI Australia begins internationalisation - buys explosives business from ICI Plc

South Australian pig iron production - takes first steps with pilot plant funding

Wesfarmers takes position in ammonium nitrate feasibility study for Queensland - implications for ICI

A petrochemical project for Western Australia (involving Hanwha?)

ICI's Botany site finally becomes ethane-based with closures of PP, EDC and mercury-cell chloralkali (October)

New petrochemical venture for Western Australia? (September)

Gibson Chemicals accepts take over US$9.00 per share by Ecolab (October)

Lithium carbonate plant operated by Gwalia, mothballed with falling prices. (June)

Electrolytic manganese plant sold by BHP to South Africa's Delta Electrical Industries

Wesfarmers in WA investing in A$150m ammonia plant. (June)

ICI Ceramics business being sold. (June)

ICI Australia caste adrift by its British parent. (May)

Australian Vinyls Corp. - new joint venture in PVC manufacture (May)

Gallium production by Rhone Poulenc mothballed (May)

The inevitable, Hoechst sells polyolefin plant to Kemcor Australia

Who owns the copyright? Not necessarily the author finds Chemwatch. (May)

Chemical industry performance - profits

One million tonnes of carbon dioxide available? (for a soda ash project?)

Two new lime plants in WA. Price war anticipated

PNG gas for Queensland? (Nov.)

New naphthalene sulfonate formaldehyde condensate surfactant plant by Albright & Wilson (Australia) Limited

Cyanide expansion by AGR in WA

At last, HiFert justified - Ammonium phosphate fertiliser plant by WMC

Major shifts

During past years major changes include:
bulletOrica sells surfactant chemical business at Botany (ethoxylates) to Huntsman Corporation (Part owner of Huntsman Chemicals Australia).
bulletOrica plans to sell share holding in Australian Vinyls Corp.
bulletKemcor assumes 50% interest in merger with Orica. MD of Kemcor to head JV in poyethylenes, polypropylene and SB and SBR rubbers). JV known as Qenos.
bulletSale of ICI Australia to become Orica.
bulletHoechst Australia sells its business in Australia.
bulletBasell buys the polypropylene business of ICI Australia (now Orica).
bulletICI closes EDC and VCM synthesis operations.
bulletDow Chemical and Huntsman Chemicals form a joint venture, Polystyrene Australia to manufacture and sell polystyrene.
bulletOrica buys world explosives business of ICI Plc.
bulletOrica aims to buy 26.7 per cent of ammonia, ammonium nitrate manufacturer Incitec not already owned valuing company at A$670 million. Orica to focus on 1. mining services, 2. agricultural chemicals, 3. chemicals and 4. consumer products.
bulletOrica sells surfactant business at Botany to Huntsman Corporation (the US-based owner of the Melbourne styrenic resin manufacturer) for A$155m in Dec 1998. Effectively Orica now only has part interest in the Botany complex that formed the nucleus of its parent's investment in Australia beginning 1940.
bulletWMC's ammonium phosphate fertiliser plant in Queensland represents the largest investment in the chemical industry this decade.

Custom Search