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Acid Plant Database  May 17, 2022

Owner Incitec Pivot Limited

IncitecPivot-Logo.gif (31712 bytes)

Location Mount Isa, Queensland

Pivot - Phosphate Co-operative Co. of Australia

1988 - WMC acquires Hi Fert, Ltd.
1996 - Queensland Phosphate, Ltd. becomes WMC Fertilizers, Ltd.
2003 -
Incitec Pivot Limited was created on the merger between Pivot and Incitec Fertilizers
2005 -
BHP Billiton acquired WMC Resources Limited
        - WMC's fertilizer business was sold to a joint venture between Elders and AWB in late 2005
2006 - Southern Cross Fertilisers Pty Limited

Website www.incitecpivot.com.au
Plant Mount Isa
Coordinates* 20º 43' 58" S, 139º 28' 58" E
Type of Plant Metallurgical/Sulphur Burner
Gas Source Copper
23 to 32% SO2
Pierce-Smith Converters
Quantity: 4
5 to 6% SO2
Elemental Sulphur
7 tph minimum, 25 tph maximum
Hot Gas Cleaning Hot ESP - -
Wet Gas Cleaning Quench - Radial Flow Scrubber - Wet Gas Fan Radial Flow Scrubbers (4) - Wet Gas Fan (4)
Gas Cooling Towers (2) - WESP (2 x 2)
Plant Capacity 4200 MTPD
330,120 Nm3/h @ 10.1% SO2
SA/DA 3 SA, 97.4% overall conversion
Status Operating
Year Built 2000
Technology Outotec (Lurgi)
Contractor -
Remarks Xstrata Copper operate the smelter and Incitec Pivot operates the acid plant.  The acid is used for the production of ammonium phosphate fertilizers at Incitec Pivot's facility at Phosphate Hill.

Capital cost of plant: A$130 to A$150 million(1)

One of the world's largest converters: 16 m diameter

NOx Treatment System: De-NOx
Fluoride Treatment System: Sodium Silicate Addition


Replacement Quench Tower Shell (2022) - Wulguru Group (Fabricators)
General Incitec Pivot is a relatively new company, created by the merger of two of the powerhouses of the Australian fertiliser industry in June 2003. Its scale and production capacity was greatly increased in August 2006 with the purchase of Southern Cross Fertilisers, Australia's only manufacturers of MAP and DAP fertilisers.
Personnel Brian-Corrie.jpg (75113 bytes) Brian Corrie - Operations Manager
References (1) Mount Isa Mines Limited Panel Assessment Study – Management of Sulfur Dioxide at Mount Isa
(2) K.H. Daum, "Design, Construction and Commissioning of the World's Largest Smelter Acid Plant", Presented at the AIChE Clearwater Convention 2000
News December 15, 2020 - The sky in Mount Isa in Queensland's north west has been thick with a dark plume for the past two mornings after malfunctions at Incitec Pivot's acid plant. The manufacturing plant produces sulphuric acid from burning elemental sulphur and is one of six across eastern Australia.  While local residents are accustomed to a plume from the Glencore Mount Isa Mines' copper stack, the additional plume has caused concern from local residents.  After Tuesday morning's plume was identified an Incitec Pivot spokesperson said the gas release was due to a pump malfunction.  "At our Mount Isa acid plant this morning [December 15] a visible gas release occurred for a period of 20 minutes due to a pump malfunction," the spokesperson said.  "Emergency services were notified immediately and the plant was shut down as soon as we became aware of the release.  "Whilst the plume was visible for a short period, it is expected to have had minimal impact to the community."  The spokesperson said the plant would remain closed until the pump issue was resolved however the plume was again visible on this Wednesday morning.  When contacted again, the spokesperson said the plant was restarted "taking into account favourable air quality conditions".  "Following our concerns about air quality and updated advice, we suspended the restart," they said.  Priisyg Lane, who lives in the suburb of Parkside in Mount Isa, said the smell was a "chemical smell".  "I know acid doesn't really have a smell, but it's like an acid-type smell in your clothes," she said.  "I've lived here for 18 years."  Ms Lane said when she raised complaints locally, she was often told to either "deal with it, or leave".  "We get told, people like us who express what happens to us, 'Well if you don't like it, then leave,'" she said.  In Incitec Pivot's 2020 annual report it was noted that the company's manufacturing systems were "vulnerable to equipment breakdowns".  Mount Isa's air quality is monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

August 27, 2016 - A higher frequency of unseasonal westerly winds is responsible for higher that usual sulphur dioxide readings in the Mount Isa area, according to Mount Isa Mines.  Users of the AQMI phone app will have noticed a large number of sulphur dioxide warnings and Maryann Wipaki, Health, Safety, Environment and Community Manager for Glencore’s North Queensland operations said the wind was to blame.  “Recently, there has been a higher frequency of westerly or unfavourable winds than usual when compared against seasonal trends,” Ms Wipaki said. “In the last three months, westerly winds have increased by 84% when compared with the same period last year.”  The data comes from Mount Isa Mines’ Air Quality Mount Isa (AQMI) application which provides a 24 hour forecast of westerly wind conditions to predict the likelihood of sulphur dioxide impacting the Mount Isa community and provides a dashboard of the monitoring locations within the community and the levels of sulphur dioxide being detected.  Ms Wipaki says they take measures to deal with the problem as it arises including shutdown of operations.  “Our Air Quality Control Centre (AQC) works both predictively by assessing weather patterns and production profiles) and reactively by responding to changed weather conditions and sulphur dioxide detected on the monitoring network to minimise impacts to our community and ensure compliance with our regulatory limits,” she said.  “During the past week, and consistent with our AQC management protocols, we have restricted our smelting operations – complete and partial shutdowns - for 87 hours in total,” she said.  “This is an increase of 59 hours from the week before, when more favourable wind conditions were experienced.”  When asked whether this represented a higher danger than normal for anyone doing outdoor activities, Ms Wipaki said the AQMI application sent notifications at levels lower than most people would detect sulphur dioxide and lower than the regulatory limit.   “The application is particularly targeted at increasing awareness for community members who are more sensitive than others to sulphur dioxide,” she said.

May 12, 2016 -
Mount Isa Mines claims its emissions are consistent with national guidelines, but the mine has exceeded the hourly limit for sulfur dioxide emissions several days this year.

Australia's biggest polluter of sulfur dioxide continues to breach national air quality guidelines on at least one critical measure, an investigation by RN's Background Briefing can reveal.  Mount Isa Mines in remote north-west Queensland has been working toward meeting tougher environmental conditions introduced by the state government five years ago, partly to address health concerns in the city.  In an interview with the ABC, the mine's operator Glencore said millions of dollars had been spent to ensure its emissions were now in line with national guidelines.  'We are at that stage where all of our measures are consistent with the national environmental protection measures and we currently meet those,' the boss of the company's copper operations in North Queensland, Mike Westerman, said.

But data from the Queensland environment department's air monitoring equipment tells a different story.  It shows the mine has exceeded the hourly limit for sulfur dioxide emissions several days this year.  The national guideline only allows for breaches to occur one day a year.  'It's just simply factually incorrect that the mine meets the national standard,' said Professor Mark Taylor, an environmental scientist at Sydney's Macquarie University.  'It does not.'  Glencore points out the national guideline is not legally enforceable and its environmental authority with the state government only requires the mine to meet the hourly limit 98 per cent of the time.  That works out to be 175 hours, or seven days, in which breaches are allowed over the course of a year.

The mine is across the road from the Mount Isa community where more than 20,000 people live.  Westerly winds, common in the outback during the summer months, can push toxic plumes from the copper and lead smelters into the city.  As Taylor explains, exposure to sulfur dioxide can exacerbate respiratory conditions like asthma.  'It increases their risk of suffering from things like asthma, wheeze, shortness of breath, and clearly increases the rate of people having to spend the night in hospital, because they're suffering from respiratory illness,' he said.  'Also there's the long term damage of breathing in sulfur dioxide, which would probably form sulfuric acid in your lungs and anybody who knows anything would know that sulfuric acid on your tissue is not such a good thing; it's quite aggressive.'  Last year, 55 residents made official complaints to the mine about sulfur dioxide emissions.

An air quality control centre on the mine site is supposed to predict changes in the weather that could result in emissions blowing over the city.  If it looks as if the wind direction could change, the centre will alert the mine to slow—or stop—production at the copper and lead smelters.  'You can potentially get a turnaround of 15 minutes to do it safely,' said Matthew Meere, the mine's superintendent of air quality and technical instruments.  'First up we'd put the operations onto what's called an orange status and being an orange status, like traffic lights, it will be get ready to slow down, something's going to happen.  'Then, if things are evolving, they'd be having a look at what we can actually sustain, or do we need to cease emissions altogether?'

The mine will only resort to placing limits on production at the smelters in the absence of a cold air inversion.  An inversion occurs when there is a band of cold air on the surface and a band of warmer air above it.  The warmer air will theoretically prevent the heavy metals in the toxic plumes from falling to the ground.  So, even if there are westerly winds about, Meere says the mine can safely allow emissions to be carried across town.  'It will skip over the top and keep going until it's fully dispersed,' he said.  Professor Mark Taylor disputes this.  He points to data from the environment department, which shows there is a clear and significant spike in emissions from the lead and copper smelters during the summer months, when the cold air inversion tactic would be used.  'If it was completely effective you would not see spikes of lead in air in the summer period when the wind blows from the west.'

February 28, 2016 -
Mount Isa's Lead Health Management Committee has started devising a new strategic plan to include ways of minimising health risks associated with airborne contaminants other than lead.It follows a Queensland Government decision last year to widen the scope of the committee to include cadmium, arsenic and sulphur dioxide.Committee chairwoman and Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said the new strategic plan would be reviewed at the next committee meeting in six months."We'll be looking at what strategies could be used here in Mount Isa for those other airborne heavy metals and sulphur dioxides," she said."So what are the things that we could recommend that the hospital and health service does?"What are the things that they can do to assist and work with their community?"So we're going to put together a whole lot of ideas and then we'll discuss them at our next meeting, which is planned for six months' time."So we want to think about what are the strategic issues, what can be done to develop a new strategic plan with that broader terms of reference."

January 5, 2016 -
A Queensland freight train derailment more than a week ago will cost explosives and fertiliser maker Incitec Pivot $14 million off its full year net profit.  The company expects the one-off impact in its 2016 financial year results, after a train transporting a shipment of sulphuric acid for use at its Phosphate Hill fertiliser manufacturing plant, overturned in Queensland's northwest on December 27.  The train was carrying more than 800,000 litres of sulphuric acid when all 26 wagons derailed near Julia Creek.  It was initially estimated that 31,500 litres had spilled from one carriage, but it has become apparent an additional wagon may also have a minor leak.  Wet conditions have hampered recovery efforts and the construction of a temporary track around the crash site, but recovery crews are building access roads from a nearby highway to the railway so that heavy machinery can access the site.  Incitec said on Wednesday full plant operations at Phosphate Hill will only resume by the third week of January, although it still expects the plant to produce 950,000 tonnes of fertiliser during the 2016 financial year.  It had previously forecast the plant to produce more than one million tonnes for the year.  The one-off charge is likely on account of loss of the raw material and from lost production due to delayed operations at the plant.  In November, Incitec reported full year net profit of $398.6 million, helped by stronger earnings from its Australian fertiliser business and a weaker Australian dollar.  It did not provide a profit forecast for FY 2016 but had predicted challenging market conditions would continue in its key consumer industries of resources and agriculture.  At 1022 AEDT, Incitec Pivot shares were down five cents, or 1.4 per cent, at $3.83. 

March 19, 2014
- Recent operations at Mount Isa Mines and Incitec Pivot have resulted in vehicles being damaged by acid rain, stripping the paintwork and causing thousands of dollars damage.  Known as fallout, the damage occurs from SO2 (sulphur dioxide) emitted as a result of operations from Mount Isa Mines and Incitec Pivot.  Both companies have declined to comment on the situation, but they have appointed Brisbane-based law firm Gallagher Bassett to assess vehicles and offer a depreciation payment.  With offers of depreciation often falling thousands of dollars short of repair costs, many residents are forced to turn to their insurer and pay an excess.  A Mount Isa resident responded to a post on The North West Star Facebook page and said she knew many people who had been offered insufficient amounts to compensate for the damage.  “One of my cars is showing increasing paint damage and will need to be assessed soon, but I wonder if it's worth the trouble, given that we can't get into a panelbeater for six months anyway,'' she said.  Among the dozens of residents with vehicles recently damaged by fallout, one Facebook resident said his new four-wheel-drive had been covered in fallout damage.  Both Mount Isa Mines and Incitec Pivot have declined to discuss how they inform the public about the fallout damage, which according to Xstrata Copper North Queensland Sustainability reports has triggered 237 claims within three years.  A spokesperson for Mount Isa Mines said there was sufficient information on the company's website to inform the public of the risk of damage.

January 21, 2014
- NEW figures from the Queensland Government Department of Environment and Heritage reveal Mount Isa recorded the highest amount of sulphur dioxide breaches last year, the highest since records began in 2000.  Latest figures reveal 55 breaches of the national sulphur dioxide levels in 2013, up from 36 breaches in 2012.  Sulphur dioxide in Mount Isa is a result of smelting operations at Xstrata-Glencore Mount Isa Mines.  The Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage publish daily sulphur dioxide levels from Mount Isa's two monitoring sites at Menzies and The Gap.  The National Environment Protection Measure for Ambient Air Quality has set the national standard of sulphur dioxide emissions of 0.2 parts per million, per hour, with one breach permitted per year.  Department of Environment and Heritage Protection executive director Rob Lawrence has previously said he was aware of breaches of the national standard by mining in Mount Isa, but said they had until 2016 to meet standards.  The mining giant was excused from breaches after an agreement in 2011 between the Queensland government and Xstrata Mount Isa Mines, who agreed to the development of a five-year transitional environmental plan.  The TEP includes an agreed action plan to ensure operational performance achieves compliance with the new conditions by the end of the five-year transition period (2016).  In 2011, Mount Isa Mines revealed plans to phase out copper smelting in Mount Isa by 2016.  A Mount Isa Mines representative said hotter and drier weather conditions in 2013 were unfavourable for smelting operations, and could have attributed to the high levels of sulphur throughout the city.  The representative said the company reduced smelting operations for a total of 2194 hours to lessen the impact on the community.  Opposition environment spokeswoman Jackie Trad has previously said the government had turned a blind eye to the health of Mount Isa residents in the hopes of continued mining royalties.  ``What the people of Mount Isa get in return from the LNP government is a raw deal,'' she said.  ``They get a government that does not care about their health and well-being.''  A spokesperson for Queensland Health warned people experiencing discomfort during episodes of higher ambient sulphur dioxide levels should limit their physical exercise and consider closing doors and windows until the sulphur dioxide levels are reduced. 

November 15, 2013
- A more visible plume will be emitted into the Mount Isa air due to Pivot’s acid plant going offline for the next nine days.  “The Mount Isa acid plant’s sulphuric acid storage tanks are at full capacity as our Phosphate Hill operation was offline,” a spokesperson for Incitec Pivot said.  Sulphuric acid from the Mount Isa plant is railed to Phosphate Hill for blending with locally-mined phosphate rock and ammonia to manufacture ammonium phosphate fertiliser.  “During this time, the Mount Isa acid plant is taking the opportunity to undertake routine maintenance and will be offline from 14 November for nine days until November 23,” the spokesperson said.   A spokesperson for Mount Isa Mines encouraged residents as they attempted to manage emissions while the acid plant is offline.  "Due to one of our customers being offline, residents may notice a more visible plume coming from our copper stack,” the spokesperson said.  “We are working proactively on evaluating our smelting operations, as well as monitoring weather patterns during this period, to ensure there is minimal environmental impact on the community.  "If unfavourable weather patterns are predicted by our Air Quality Control (AQC) centre, we will reduce our operations, as per standard practice, until conditions improve."

October 30, 2013 - Sulphur dioxide levels at Mount Isa in north-west Queensland have exceeded the national standard 11 times this month.The Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection records hourly readings of the levels at two sites throughout the city.This month, one monitor at the "Menzies" site detected sulphur dioxide levels above the national standard on 11 occasions.The standard is 0.2 parts per million.Last year, the two air quality sites monitored by the department found sulphur dioxide levels in the city exceeded the national standard more than 40 times.Xstrata-Glencore's Mount Isa Mines is under a State Government-approved transitional program, which means the company has until the end of 2016 to reduce the emissions to the national standard.MIM says the company reduced smelting operations for more than 70 hours this month to lessen the impact on the community.It says as summer approaches, westerly winds are unfavourable for smelting operations and can also affect the levels.Meanwhile, a north-west Queensland State MP says Glencore-Xstrata is doing its best to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions in the city.Member for Mount Isa Rob Katter says he has spoken with the company about the situation and is satisfied with its response."I'm convinced they do their best over there to try and be right on that," he said."That means you're not going to get it every time, but I think it's important we jump on them every time that we hear of something like this to keep them on their toes."Because at the end of the day, community safety is paramount. "The Queensland Environment Minister has been contacted for comment.

April 9, 2013 - A family day care manager in Mount Isa in north-west Queensland says they could be forced to disrupt their playgroup if sulphur dioxide in the air becomes overwhelming for the children.Incitec Pivot's acid plant, which is directly involved in reducing the amount of SO2 from Xstrata's copper smelter, will be undergoing maintenance during the next seven days.The company monitors the releases from the copper smelter stack.An Xstrata spokeswoman says residents may notice a more visible plume coming from the copper smelter stack during the outage.The company spokeswoman says anyone who feels they are being affected by the smelter's operations should contact the company's community feedback hotline.Day care manager Elaine Hardwick, who is business is near Xstrata Mount Isa Mines, says on previous occasions staff have finished their playgroup early due to the sulphur dioxide in the air.Ms Hardwick says two or three times over the past few years staff were able to smell and taste the sulphur dioxide coming from Xstrata's copper smelter stack.She says she would like to see more promotion of the company's feedback hotline as a way of giving advice to residents."If they could get feedback from services when there are issues, it might help them to provide better support to the community as in what to do and what not to do and how to handle it," she said.

November 26, 2012
- Incitec Pivot yesterday took delivery of a vital part to fix its waste hear boiler, after the boiler’s failure two weeks ago forced the company’s acid plant to close.  Delivering the equipment from Europe was one of the largest planes to ever land in Mount Isa, a 50 metre Russian Ilyushin I1-76 cargo plane, the
North West Star reported.  Pilot Andrew Erstropov said despite heavy cargo and the size of the plane, Mount Isa airport handled the situation well.  “The condition of the runway was good and the weather was clear, there were no problems,” he said.  Having the ability to handle such a large aircraft allows Rockhampton Airport to cater to all different industry requirements, councillor and chair of council’s business enterprise committee Neil Fisher said.  “This is an aircraft that is capable of carrying five Apache helicopters,” he said.  “If we can handle the Antonov, we can easily use our resources to cater to the needs of the mining community, enabling Central Queensland mines to have their equipment shipped in by air rather than by road.” Fisher said.  The acid plant is still expected to be shut for one month an Incitec Pivot spokesperson said.  This will lead to decreased ammonium nitrate production at Phosphate Hill and losses estimated at $25 million before tax, Manufacturers’ Monthly reported earlier this month.  Australian Mining found that the extended closure of Incitec Pivot's acid plant in Queensland had resulted in Xstrata's copper smelter's increasing sulphur dioxide emission levels.  The acid plant near Mount Isa previously took around 80 per cent of the Mount Isa Mines' smelter's byproducts and emissions to create sulphuric acid for fertilisers.  While it is shut down emissions are all released via the stack.  "During the shut down maintenance period of Incitec Pivot Limited, 100 per cent of our sulphur dioxide is sent through to our copper stack," an Xstrata spokesperson explained.  She went on to stress that the increased emissions would not reach harmful levels

November 12, 2012
Fertiliser maker Incitec Pivot Ltd says the shutdown of a Mt Isa sulphuric acid plant for up to a month could cost it $25 million.  The waste heat boiler at the Queensland plant failed, and the plant may need to be offline for up to a month in order for repairs to be made, Incitec Pivot said.  The closure of the Mt Isa plant will cause reduced operations at the ammonium phosphate plant at Phosphate Hill, south of Mt Isa.  That could reduce the plant's production of ammonium phosphates in the year to September 30, 2013 to 900,000 tonnes, the company said.  If the Mt Isa plant is offline for a month, the financial implication of higher costs of sulphuric acid and repairs is estimated to be in the region of $25 million, before tax, Incitec Pivot said.

March 28, 2012
Sulphur dioxide fumes from Xstrata Copper's smelter in Mount Isa in north-west Queensland will be captured and made into fertiliser again, after repairs to equipment at a facility.  Incitec Pivot's sulfuric acid plant in the city was shut down last month while repairs were carried out.  The company uses emissions from the Xstrata smelter to produce sulfuric acid, which is then used to make fertiliser at Phosphate Hill.  Incitec Pivot operations manager Brian Corrie says sulphur dioxide levels over Mount Isa were within safe levels during the shutdown period.  "In Mount Isa, Xstrata have a very high, very sophisticated SO2 monitoring system and there are certain levels ... Xstrata's not allowed to exceed certain ground level concentrations and during the shutdown, there were no exceedences [sic]," he said.  Mr Corrie says the company has warned shareholders the shutdown will affect profits.  He says Incitec is now redoubling its efforts to make up for the lost weeks of production.  "Quite a drop in our output - but we'll try and catch up the rest of the year," he said.  "What we'll do now is we will just make sure that we keep the plant running reliably and we will maximise what we produce."

March 6, 2012
- The extended shut down of the Incitec Pivot acid plant has resulted in increased sulphur dioxide emissions from Xstrata's copper smelter.  Since 2000, the acid plant has taken the bulk of the copper smelter's emissions to create sulphuric acid used to make fertiliser, about 80 per cent.  An Xstrata Mount Isa Mines spokeswoman said all emissions were currently being released through the stack.  "During the shut down maintenance period of Incitec Pivot Limited, 100 per cent of our sulphur dioxide is sent through to our copper stack," she said.  She said the increased emissions would not reach harmful levels.  "During the shutdown of the acid plant, Xstrata Mount Isa Mines will continue to operate its smelters in accordance with procedures undertaken by its air quality control system, which is the most intensive air quality monitoring system of any city in Australia," she said.  "The air quality control system in Mount Isa directs the smelters to shut down if unfavourable wind conditions blow smelter emissions eastwards towards town and they impact the local community."  Incitec Pivot had to extend the routine maintanence shut down of its acid plant when workers discovered extra work needed to be done.  The acid plant is expected to be back online by mid to late March.  Incitec Pivot has estimated the shutdown will reduce its annual profit by $21 million.

February 23, 2012
- Incitec Pivot Limited (ASX: IPL) today announced that there will be a one month extension to its planned maintenance turnaround at its Mount Isa Sulphuric Acid plant.  The extended turnaround will reduce production of Sulphuric Acid from the Mount Isa plant, resulting in the Ammonium Phosphate plant at Phosphate Hill operating at reduced rates during this period. The impact of this is estimated to be a 40,000 tonne reduction in the production of Ammonium Phosphates at the Phosphate Hill plant, resulting in the expected production of Ammonium Phosphates at that plant for the financial year ended 30 September 2012 to be 880,000 tonnes. The financial impact to net profit after tax is currently estimated to be $21 million.• IPL undertakes planned maintenance turnarounds on its Mount Isa Sulphuric Acid plant in North West Queensland on a bi-annual basis to ensure the continued safe and reliable operation of its plant.• In accordance with IPL's Risk and Reliability Strategy, inspections are carried out on all plant and equipment which is otherwise inaccessible during operation.• On such inspection of the Final Absorption Tower at the Mount Isa Sulphuric Acid plant, IPL located deterioration of the brick lining, which will now be repaired while the plant is offline.

December 21, 2011
- Mount
Isans should be breathing cleaner air in the New Year now that Xstrata Mount Isa Mines has been made to operate under tougher air and water emission regulations yesterday.  Xstrata MIM will now have to comply with stringent environmental regulations, and is now bound by the Environmental Protection Act.  Since 1985 the mining operations had been exempt from the Act and has operated under its own special legislation.  Under the regulations set down by the Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM), Xstrata will be required to significantly cut sulphur dioxide emissions and comply with more stringent standards for air and water quality.  DERM environmental services regional manager Rob Lawrence said the transition was part of a wider plan to ensure all Queensland mines operated under the same legislation.  "Mines that previously operated under special agreement acts are now required to have approvals under the Environmental Protection Act. This means the same rules apply across every operation in the state."  Mr Lawrence said DERM was working with Xstrata to ensure the company met its environmental obligations.  "We recognise that considerable work and investment is required to bring the Mount Isa operation up to contemporary standards," he said.  "This will take time. However the Department of Environment and Resource Management is working closely with MIM to ensure the transition to the new standards occurs in a timely fashion while also ensuring the risk to the environment is minimised."  Xstrata Copper North Queensland chief operating officer Steve de Kruijff said Xstrata had spent $275 million on environmental initiatives since the Swiss mining company acquired the operation in 2003.  "We are planning to invest a further $360 million over the next five years to continue improving our performance," he said.  Xstrata plans to close its Mount Isa copper smelter, which emits the sulphur dioxide, by the end of 2016.

May 25, 2011
Xstrata is due to submit a new environmental management plan to the Qld Government by Friday on its Mount Isa operations.  Mining giant Xstrata says its decision to phase out copper smelting and refining in Mt Isa and Townsville in north Queensland has not been motivated by the Federal Government's carbon tax.  The company will shut down both operations by the end of 2016.   Xstrata has told its 420 staff in the Mount Isa and Townsville facilities it will offer retraining and relocation to retain them.   Xstrata chief operating officer Steve de Kruijff says its Australian operations cannot compete with China, but the carbon tax is not to blame.  "What we've found is that the emerging Chinese metal processing industry is producing copper at a far more marginal rate then we can do that," Mr de Kruijff said. "We don't believe that our smelting and refining processes can be sustained into the future.   "We don't see a turnaround in the profitability of smelters from a global perspective and/or refining."  Xstrata says it will focus on the expansion of existing mines and the development of new mines at Mount Isa and the broader region.  Xstrata says the Ernest Henry Mine at Cloncurry will not be affected by the decision.  It is unclear what the announcement will mean in terms of job losses but the company says it needs to evolve the business to secure its long-term future.  The announcement comes at the same time Xstrata is preparing an environmental management plan to submit to the State Government on its Mount Isa mine operations.  Xstrata is due to submit a new environmental management plan to the State Government by Friday on its Mount Isa operations.   Queensland Resources Council chief executive officer Michael Roche says Xstrata's decision highlights the risk of introducing a carbon tax.  "This just shows you just how vulnerable [the industry] can be to additional cost impost, which is why of course we're trying to fend off the worst of the carbon tax at the moment," he said.  Mr Roche says the move shows how tough the market is becoming for Australian companies.   "Without our competitors also having some sort of carbon pricing mechanism, it's just going to get harder and harder for us to compete," he said.  Mount Isa Mayor John Molony says he thinks uncertainty over the Federal Government's carbon tax may have influenced Xstrata's decision.  "It's a dangerous time of the year for big mining companies like Xstrata when you get the Federal Government announcing a carbon tax without details," he said.  "The mining company will automatically budget for the worst-case scenario.  "It might please [Greens Senator] Bob Brown but it doesn't please the mining operators."  The Townsville Port handles around 600,000 tonnes of copper product a year.  The port exported more than 500,000 tonnes of copper last financial year and imported 100,000 tonnes from South America to be refined in Townsville.  Townsville Port chief executive Barry Holden says it is too early to know if Xstrata's decision will have a major impact on the port because there is scope to export more concentrate from the Ernest Henry mine.  "At this particular point in time we intend to wait and just see what the advices are from Xstrata and some more detail in terms of any changes that will occur in their tonnages through the port," he said.  "As always we will work with them to achieve the best outcome for them."

February 9, 2011
- Queensland’s wild weather will wipe $36 million from chemicals company Incitec Pivot's earnings, the group says.  Cyclone Yasi, which ripped through far north Queensland last week, halted production at its Phosphate Hill fertiliser plant and the Mount Isa sulphuric acid factory, the company told the stock exchange.  While Phosphate Hill is well inland, about 160 kilometres south of Mount Isa, most of its workers live on the coast and the company flew many of them home before the cyclone hit so they could prepare their homes and families for the crisis.  ''The Phosphate Hill and Mount Isa plants have returned to normal operation,'' the company said.  Operations in cyclone-ravaged Townsville were also disrupted, with ''minor damage'' to port facilities and the company's distribution centre, Incitec Pivot said.  The $36 million figure includes the effect of the floods that swamped much of Queensland and also hit New South Wales and Victoria in December and January.

October 13, 2010
- A mechanical problem at Incitec Pivot's Mount Isa acid plant has resulted in more visible emissions from Xstrata's copper smelter in recent days.  The acid plant extracts metalliferous gases from the copper smelter, including sulphur dioxide, however only two thirds of the normal level of extracted gases were being removed due to a breakdown in one of the plant's two blowers, an Incitec Pivot spokesperson said.  The acid plants produces sulphuric acid which is transported to Phosphate Hill, south of Mount Isa, to produce fertiliser.  The spokesperson said the breakdown was not having any impact on fertiliser production because the company could supplement acid from other sources.   The spokesperson said Xstrata were notified of the equipment failure when the blower first stopped working.  Xstrata's 2009 sustainability report said sulphur dioxide emissions went up in the reporting year due to downtime at the acid plant.   The repairs to the damaged blower are expected to be complete by mid next week.

March 5, 2010 - INCITEC Pivot's sulphuric acid plant has a new operations manager.  Brian Corrie has moved to Mount Isa from Sydney to take on the new role.  Mr Corrie said he was excited about his new position.  "It was a good opportunity from a job point of view. I have the knowledge and experience to do the job well," he said.  "The new job is very exciting. It's a challenge and an opportunity to grow in a big company."  But Mount Isa is more than just a rung on the ladder for Mr Corrie, who said he had no intention of leaving anytime soon.  "I'm settling into Mount Isa and I'm going to be here for the long term," he said.  Mr Corrie has a background in metallurgy and spent 24 years in the platinum industry in South Africa.  He also worked with Cement Australia in Gladstone, which he said helped him to prepare for Mount Isa.  The plant Mr Corrie is in charge of employs about 50 people and uses metgas from the neighbouring Xstrata copper smelter as the main feedstock to produce sulphuric acid.  The acid is transported by rail to Incitec's plant at Phosphate Hill, where it is used to manufacture fertiliser for Australia and export markets.  www.northweststar.com.au

February 26, 2010
- The shutdown of copper operations at Xstrata Mount Isa Mines and Incitec Pivot Limited's Phosphate Hill fertiliser and Mount Isa sulphuric acid plants for maintenance will inject millions of dollars into the community.  Final preparations are being made for the shutdowns which start next Tuesday at the three operations. It should be completed by March 31.  For Incitec Pivot the shutdown will cost $56 million in goods and services and will involve more than 900 fly-in contractors from more than 75 companies working across both sites.    About 250 of the contractors will work on projects at the acid plant and live in Mount Isa for between two and three weeks. They will be housed at four caravan parks.  Another 625 extra personnel will be engaged at Phosphate Hill during the course of the shutdown and will live on site.  For Xstrata the shutdown is the final stage of a $34million dollar project, this stage will cost about $28million.  The company said the copper smelter had engaged several local and outside contractors who were specialists in maintenance shutdowns. Collectively they would provide about 330 contractors to work on the copper smelter re-brick.  The re-brick will involve replacing the refractory (brick) linings of the vessels which convert concentrate to anode through a series of smelting processes.  The copper smelter re-brick will use about 1000 tonnes of special thermal bricks which are sourced from Europe. They are not made in Australia.  340 tonnes of bricks will be used in the Rotary Holding Furnace, 240 tonnes of bricks in Anode Furnace 2 and about 420 tonnes of bricks in the Copper ISASMELT Furnace.  At Xstrata, the shut down will affect mainly the copper smelter maintenance and operational employees. Some engineering personnel will be involved in the Xstrata project. The Incitec Pivot Limited (IPL) shutdown is planned as is the Xstrata shutdown and will have no impact "on upstream or downstream parts" of Xstrata's operations.

MTPD - Metric Tonne per Day           STPD - Short Ton per Day
MTPA - Metric Tonne per Annum      STPA - Short Ton per Annum
SA - Single Absorption
DA - Double Absorption

* Coordinates can be used to locate plant on Google Earth