Orica Reports Chemical Spill at Australian Explosives Plant

Orica Ltd. (ORI), set to restart an explosives plant in Australia’s New South Wales, said it notified the local authority today about an overflow of ammonium nitrate solution from a storage tank.

The weak solution poses no risk to the public and isn’t part of Orica’s attempt to reopen the plant that was shut on safety concerns following a vapor release last month, spokeswoman Nicole Ekert said today by phone. She declined to say if the incident will delay the restarting process.

Some of the 20,000 liters of solution in the tank spilled over a bund surrounding the reservoir and soaked into the ground, the Environment Protection Authority of New South Wales said in a statement. No one was injured in the incident, the authority said.

Mining companies are sourcing alternative supplies and modifying operations to minimize output losses after the shutdown of Orica’s Kooragang plant, which supplies about 80 percent of explosives to the state’s mining industry, New South Wales Minerals Council said last month.

Rio Tinto Group (RIO) said last month some of its mines in the state have been affected and the London-based company is “working to manage that impact.”

The plant accounts for 85 percent of the total demand in the Hunter Valley, where most of New South Wales’s coal mines are located, the Council Acting Chief Executive Officer Sue-Ern Tan said Nov. 23. Xstrata Plc (XTA), the world’s biggest exporter of thermal coal, said last month it is monitoring the situation as the company’s coal business in New South Wales continues to operate as normal.

To contact the reporter on this story: Soraya Permatasari in Melbourne at soraya@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Andrew Hobbs at ahobbs4@bloomberg.net; Rebecca Keenan at rkeenan5@bloomberg.net

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