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Australian chemicals company CEO calls for common onshore safety standards

17 April 2014

Yara Pilbara chief executive Mark Loquan has said onshore mining and processing companies should take a leaf from the offshore sector and introduce a minimum safety code for operations in Western Australia (WA), according to a report in Mining Australia.

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Speaking at a Chamber of Minerals and Energy health and safety conference in Perth on April 14, the head of the Pilbara-based ammonia producer called for common safety standards for onshore processing facilities covering contractors, as well as company personnel.

The current situation was fragmented with individual companies having their own systems and requirements, he said, adding that the sector’s highly mobile workforce could yield unpredictable outcomes without new common standards.

Loquan said he supported the introduction of a co-ordinated contractor safety system such as that implemented offshore in Australia by the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA). He said Yara Pilbara had been discussing with APPEA the possibility of modifying the Common Safety Training Program (CSTP) card for offshore platforms and applying it to the company’s WA plants.

Yara Pilbara, operator of the world’s largest ammonia production facility near Karratha, has already introduced a programme to improve its occupational and process safety performance, and has claimed 800 days without a recordable injury for employees or contractors up to February 2014.

The company has also been at the forefront of attempts to come up with alternatives to the fly-in-fly-out (FIFO) staffing arrangements common across many north WA mining and processing sites. It has built new homes at its Karratha base for new employees and their families, which it says has led to a more settled and safer workforce.

Other than its existing plant, which has a production capacity of 850,000 metric tonnes of liquid ammonia a year, Yara Pilbara is also building an $800 million technical ammonium nitrate plant on a neighbouring site. The new joint venture operation, run with Orica and Apache, is expected to begin producing around 330,000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate annually by mid-2015.

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