Article by: Hari Yellina (Orchard Tech)
The Renaissance of Australia’s urea manufacturing industry continues with the announcement of another project in Western Australia to produce the nitrogen fertilizer. The Perdaman project in Karratha has received $255 million from the federal government’s Northern Australian Infrastructure Fund. With all of the recent advances, the government now believes Australia can come close to achieving urea self-sufficiency, a long cry from the position when Incitec Pivot said it would close its Gibson Island facility, the country’s last surviving urea manufacturing plant.
The ambitious Perdaman project aims to create two million tonnes of urea per year from Australian natural gas in the future. The proposal, according to Agriculture Minister David Littleproud, will assist protect Australian farmers from the current supply chain turbulence. “Farmers will have access to locally manufactured fertiliser as a result of the NAIF’s investment, ensuring our agricultural productivity and improving our exports.” The Perdaman Urea Plant has been designated as a major project by both the Australian and Western Australian governments, and is deemed transformative for Western Australia. Many farmers’ groups applauded the news.
Mic Fels, president of WAFarmers’ grain council, said the investment in local capacity provided grain growers the confidence in fertiliser security in the future, with recent global volatility emphasising the need for expanded market diversification and input self-sufficiency. Mr Fels explained, “Fertiliser accounts for up to 20% of all grain production expenses, with nitrogen utilisation and farm efficiency driving continued productivity advances in WA’s grains business.” “Our reliance on imported urea has seen a double of the local price in just the last 12 months, putting a strain on our farm finances for the coming season.”
“These large public and private investments in Western Australia’s nitrogen and potash production are positive evidence that our exploding grains business is now being recognised and supported in our key goals of ever-increasing productivity while remaining sustainable.” Geraldton, also in WA, and Leigh Creek, South Australia, are also planning new urea production facilities.