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Yara progresses in Australia

Oslo, June 12, 2014
Yara’s CEO, Jørgen Ole Haslestad, paid a visit to Australia to witness the new TAN plant and employee housing at Yara Pilbara taking shape.
Jørgen Haslestad visits Australia
Jørgen Ole Haslestad with the keys to the first new house for the plant employees. With the CEO of the Shire of Roebourne, Chris Adams and CEO of Yara Pilbara, Mark Loquan.

Yara’s Pilbara plant is remotely located on the north-western shores of Australia. The town's name, Karratha, comes from the cattle station from which land was reclaimed for the development of the settlement. Karratha in the local aboriginal language means 'good country' or 'soft earth'.

As one of the largest plants in Yara, it contributes a significant share of the company’s production capacities – and more importantly, the facility is now being significantly upgraded. More than just a collection of houses, there is an emerging local community aided by local authorities and private businesses operating in the area. A thriving countryside city is in the making. 

Investing in the local community 

The progress of the USD 800 million Technical Ammonium Nitrate plant, which represents going further downstream from ammonia, and a non fly-in/fly-out workforce with new housing that demonstrates Yara's commitment to building the local Karratha community, attracted regional media attention.

“The day started with Jørgen Ole Haslestad meeting the CEO of the Shire of Roebourne, Chris Adams, and one of the Karratha families at the first new houses constructed for the new TAN plant,” says Mark Loquan, CEO of Yara Pilbara. "Karratha is changing quite rapidly with new infrastructure which includes new highways, a leisureplex, a revamp of one of the main streets, a new school, and expansion of the airport beginning shortly. Karratha, which has about 25,000 people, will reach 'city' status this July."

Yara's residential policy has proved popular with employees, the community, and local government, who all seek sustainability for the future. The Yara CEO's visit on the way back from an International Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA) conference in Sydney, also created a media opportunity. 

Focus on safety 

 “The media received a good update on Yara International, Yara Pilbara, and the TAN project which is just under 80 percent complete," Mark says. "Over next couple of months the site will change again, with the arrival of the plant's tallest towers, the 70-meter high prilling tower, and the 56-meter tall absorption tower," Mark adds.

Jørgen Ole Haslestad then toured the existing ammonia facilities of Yara Pilbara Fertilisers with safety representatives. "It is worth noting that on 20 May 2014 the ammonia site marked 900 days without a total recordable injury for either employee or contractor," Mark says. "Jørgen commented on the high level of housekeeping, the engagement of safety reps, and the strides toward ‘Yaralization’ since his first visit to the site in early 2012."

The visit continued with a review of total site integration since Yara took over operatorship in early 2012, and a discussion about the upcoming turnaround in August, where the plant will have its 4-yearly intervention to improve safety and reliability. "It is a time to change catalyst, replace equipment with improved designs, check statutory equipment in accordance with legal obligations, and so on, as with all Upstream plants," Mark explains.

"The visits provided us with an excellent opportunity to show the steady progress we are making," Mark says, "towards new facilities that have the support of the local community - and the integration of the existing site into the Yara global family."

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