This section provides an overview of Australia's chemical industry.
More detailed information also through the following...
1. Organic chemicalsOverview
|polypropylene resin||Qenos||former Hoechst Australia plant|
|synthetic rubber (SBR and BR)||Qenos||local butadiene.|
|propylene glycols||Dow Chemicals||imported propylene oxide|
|acrylic and styrene-butadiene dispersion latices.||BASF Australia||imported acrylic esters|
|PVC resin||Australian Vinyl Corporation||imported VCM. Joint company of Orica and Auseon.|
Other major petrochemical operations
Huntsman Chemicals operates a styrene and styrene derivative plant at West Footscray, Victoria (near Altona) also producing some phenol and acetone. The key raw material, benzene, is 80 per cent imported.
Basell Australia operates two polypropylene plants at Shell refineries in Geelong Victoria and Clyde New South Wales. It uses propylene produced as a by-product of Shell's refining operations plus some purchased from Orica (that refines propylene acquired from the Kurnell refinery since closing its polypropylene plant).
Incitec ammonia, urea and ammonium nitrate operations at Newcastle New South Wales and Brisbane Queensland.
Wesfarmers ammonia and ammonium nitrate at Kwinana Western Australia.
|2,4-D, trifluralin, metham sodium||Nufarm at Laverton Victoria and Kwinana, Western Australia.|
|Acrylic-based flocculants and viscosity modifiers (resource development industry)||Nalco Australia, Allied Colloids at Wyong NSW andCiba Specialty Chemicals (formerly Imdex Chemicals) located in Kwinana, Western Australia.
Rohm and Haas at Point Henry Victoria produces acrylic polymer emulsions in water from imported acrylic esters.
SNF Australia with acrylic polymers.
See also acrylic acid.
|Acrylic acid (acrylic esters and acrylamide) is imported.|
|Ammonia||Incitec (72 per cent owned by Orica, the balance listed) plants at Newcastle, NSW and Brisbane, Queensland (plus ammonium nitrate and urea) and
CSBP at Kwinana, Western Australia
|Carbon black||Hydrocarbon Products at Altona, Victoria and Continental Carbon Petroleum at Kurnell, NSW||These plants purchase creosote tars to manufacture carbon black. which is sold as pigment and stabiliser for plastics and rubbers. Each supply about one-half the Australian market|
|Creosote||Koppers Australia||Creosote is produced as a component of oil refinery tars and coke ovens tars. Koppers Australia at Newcastle, NSW imports these tars. Koppers Australia produces binder pitch, creosote oils, naphthalene, and crude tar acids.|
|Dimethyl ether||CSR Distilleries Group at Pyrmont, NSW||About 3 000 tpa using methanol. Since 1988 as an aerosol propellant.|
|Ethanol (ethyl alcohol)||Manildra Group in Victoria and by CSR Distilleries in Queensland.||Produced by fermentation. Australian market around 50 000 tonnes|
|Esters of fatty acids||Megachem||Wide range of fatty acid esters from imported fatty acids.|
|Ethylene glycol and ethoxylates||Huntsman Chemicals at Botany, NSW.|
|Ethylene oxide||Huntsman Chemicals at Botany, NSW.|
|Fatty acids (stearic and oleic acids)||Symex Holdings at Port Melbourne, Victoria||Acid hydrolysis of animal and vegetable fats.
Oleine. From tallow, palm oil and olive oil with total production of 15,000 tonnes (2000 representing 9 per cent of world production). Major applications are as additives for polymers (35%), textile auxiliaries (25%), surfactants (20%) and lubricants.
Glycerol, co-produced with fatty acids, is also imported.
Aside from the use of vegetable oils, Symex uses 60,000-70,000 tonnes annually of tallow representing 95 per cent of fats used.
Symex also produces Distilled fatty acids from coconut oil, canol oil and tallow.
|Formaldehyde and formaldehyde-based adhesive resins||Orica at Deer Park, Victoria
Hexion at Laverton North, Victoria (silver catalyst) and Brisbane, Queensland.
Woodchem at Oberon, NSW.
Dynea at Dardanup, Western Australia.
|There are 5 plants. These plants purchase methanol and urea for conversion to formaldehyde. The methanol is purchased from Coogee Chemicals.
The urea is purchased from Incitec. Formaldehyde is not traded as it is unstable. Orica and Hexion manufacture amino and phenolic resins. There are limited volumes of imported phenolic resins.Woodchem and Dynea manufacture amino resins
|Glycerol (glycerine)||Symex Holdings at Port Melbourne, Victoria||By acid hydrolysis (splitting) of fats (tallow and imported palm oil). Principally producing fatty acid co-product, production is inadequate to supply Australia's needs.|
|Latex emulsions||BASF at Altona,Victoria. Dow Chemical at Altona, Victoria|
|Metham Sodium||Nufarm in Western Australia||Soil fumigant|
|Methanol (methyl alcohol)||Coogee Chemicals at Wyndham,Victoria||About 60 000 tpa methanol supplying about 70 per cent of Australia's needs.|
|Naphthalene||6 000 tonnes is purchased by Albright and Wilson at Wetherill Park, New South Wales to produce a specialist surfactant (naphthalene sulfonate formaldehyde condensate)|
|Naphthalene sulfonate formaldehyde condensate||Albright and Wilson at Wetherill Park, NSW||13 000 tpa. Used in mortar, cement and concrete.|
|Polyethylene resins||Orica (LLDPE & LDPE) and Kemcor (LDPE)||LLDPE, LDPE, HDPE|
|Polyols, ethylene oxide-based||Orica at Botany, NSW||Used to produce ethoxylates (non ionic surfactants (inc. nonyl phenol)|
|Polyols, propylene oxide-based||Dow Chemicals||From imported propylene oxide|
|Polypropylene resin||Viva at Geelong Victoria. Kemcor at Altona, Victoria|
|Polystyrene and other styrene polymers||Dow Chemicals at Altona, Victoria under JV (Polystyrene Australia).||80 per cent from imported benzene. Some 60 per cent of the 80 000 tonne polystyrene market is produced by Polystyrene Australia.The company has a joint venture with Dow Chemical for marketing and distribution of general-purpose and high-impact PS in Australia and New Zealand.|
|Polyvinyl chloride||Australian Vinyls Corporatiion with a 90 000 tpa plant at Altona, Victoria and Orica with a 140 000 tpa plant at Laverton, Victoria.||From imported vinyl chloride monomer (200 000 tonnes|
|Specialist chemicals and preparations||Dow Chemicals and BASF||for textiles, leather and paper|
|Styrene rubbers||Qenos at Altona, Victoria||SBR and BR.|
|Vanadium pentoxide||Australian Vanadium in Western Australia|
|Xanthate chemicals||Coogee Chemicals||5 000 tonnes capacity.|
Inorganic chemical manufacture in Australia is represented in particular by sodium carbonate, superphosphate fertiliser, titanium dioxide pigment, sodium polyphosphate and sodium cyanide.
Note: Follow the links under the Product heading!
|Alumina||(Alcoa of Australia and Worsley Alumina in Western Australia, Queensland Alumina and Nabalco in Queensland) and hydrated alumina by Alcoa in WA.||Alumina|
|Aluminium fluoride||Proposed by Alichem, Kwinana Western Australia||Aluminium fluoride proposed 40 000 tpa.|
|Ammonium chloride||Coogee Chemicals produces 8 000 tpa in a 25 per cent solution form.||Ammonium chloride|
|Ammonium phosphate||Queensland phosphates||MAP, DAP fertiliser|
|Caustic soda and chlorine||Around eight 5 000 to 20 000 tpa chloralkali units operate around Australia to produce chlorine including two dedicated to the two titanium dioxide plants in Western Australia.||More information Caustic soda and chlorine.
See also our reports on caustic soda and chlorine
|Gallium chloride||Rhodia Pinjara Western Australia||Currently closed|
|Industrial gases||BOC, Air Liquide, Linde||Industrial gases|
|Lime (calcium oxide)||Various||Lime (calcium oxide)|
|Lime sulfur (calcium polysulfide)||Balhan Industrial, at Moolcap Victoria.||Used as agricultural fungicide, metal plating waste recovery and mineral flotation aid.|
|Lithium carbonate||Gwalia Consolidated.||Currently mothballed|
|Magnesium oxide||Causmag at Young NSW
QMAG at Rockhampton
|Manganese dioxide/sulfate||Sovereign Resources||Has manganese ore deposit in Nullagine region of WA. Can mine 20 000 tpa. Proposed leaching with sulfuric acid to sulfate (fertiliser grade) and possible plant at Port Hedland to produce electrolytic grade dioxide.|
|Manganese dioxide (Electrolytic)||Delta Electrical Industries of South Africa at Newcastle, NSW||About 23 000 tpa suppying about 10 per cent of world production (used in dry-cell batteries - value US$1800 per tonne). Sold by BHP for A$57m|
|Mercurial fungicides (alkoxy mercury compounds)||Alpha Chemicals at Dee Why, NSW.||Used on sugar cane crops.|
|Peroxides||Solvay Interox in Banksmeadow, New South Wales||Products include hydrogen peroxide, peracetic acid and sodium perborate (tetra and monohydrate).|
|Phosphates||Albright and Wilson (Australia)||A&W: Inorganic phosphates (food and industrial grades)
WMC: Ammonium phosphate fertiliser.
|Silicates, aluminates, sulfates||PQ Australia in NSW,
Coogee Chemicals in WA
Hardman Australia in NSW.
|Coogee Chemicals produces a sodium silicate at Kwinana Western Australia (dissolving silica in sodium hydroxide) for use by the Millennium Inorganic Chemicals titanium dioxide pigment plant|
|Silicon metal||Simcoa at Kemerton.||Silicon metal for metal alloys|
|Sodium carbonate (soda ash)||Penrice Soda Products at Osborne, South Australia||Sodium carbonate (soda ash) by solvay process producing around 400 000 tpa.|
|Sodium cyanide||Orica and Ticor in Queensland and Australian Gold Reagents in Western Australia||Sodium cyanide - production capacities of about 30 000 tonnes each,|
|Sulfuric acid||at metal smelters|
|Superphosphate fertiliser||manufactured in all states||Superphosphate fertiliser from imported phosphate rock and sulfuric acid,|
|Titanium dioxide pigment||MIC Chemicals at Australind and
Tiwest at Kwinana (each producing about 80 000 tonnes).
|Titanium dioxide pigment|
|Zirconia, Zirconium hydroxide and sulfate||Hanwha Advanced Ceramics at Kwinana|
|Company||Location||Feedstock||Products||Capacity (nameplate tpa)|
|Coogee Chemicals||Wyndham, Victoria||natural gas||methanol||methanol 60 000|
|Dow Chemical||Altona Victoria||propylene oxide (imported), butadiene. Styrene (Huntsman)||polystyrene, polyols, SB latex, epoxy and vinyl ester resins||62,000 propylene oxide applied to polyols.
20,000 polystyrene (JV with Huntsman)
|Huntsman Corporation||Botany, NSW||ethylene (ethylene oxide)||Ethoxylate surfactants, glycols, ethanolamines||35,000 ethylene oxide that is converted to the derivatives|
|Orica||Botany, NSW||ethane||ethylene LDpolyethylene, LLDpolyethylene,||ethylene 260,000
|Kemcor Australia||Altona, Victoria||gas oil & ethane ethylene butadiene||ethylene propylene butadiene LLD polyethylene HD polyethylene SBR rubber BR rubber||ethylene 220,000
(LDPE 30,000 closed Nov 2000)
HDPE 100,000 & 90,000
(SBR 20,000 closed 2000.)
|Basell Australia||Geelong, Victoria||refinery gas||polypropylene resins||Geelong 120,000 & Clyde 70,000|
|Ammonia||Incitec||two 250 000 plants (Newcastle and Brisbane)|
|Wesfarmers (WA)||240 000|
|Australian refineries||70 000|
|HDPE||Kemcor||100 000 & 80 000|
|Polypropylene||Basell||120 000 (Geelong) & 70 000 (Clyde)|
|Polystyrene||Polystyrene Australia||60 000 (40,000 &20,000)|
|Rubber (BR)||Qenos now Kemcor||10 000 tonnes butadiene rubber|
|VCM||Australian Vinyls||120 000 and 80 000 (est.)|
|Ethylene Oxide||35 000|
The rationalisation is anticipated to slow with offsetting growth in new projects, notably in Western Australia. Orica's Botany plant increasingly moving to ethane-derived petrochemicals with access to South Australian ethane.
There are many opportunities (see alsoWestern Australia). Australia is the worlds largest importer of caustic soda (used for alumina production). Yet though simply manufactured from common salt and energy, Australia still imports nine-tenths of its needs. In Western Australia salt and energy are produced along side each other for export as raw materials and energy (at the Burrup Peninsula in the north west). An inadequate market for co-produced chlorine is claimed as an obstacle for a world scale chloralkali plant with Australia becoming increasingly competitive, this may change.
Presently seven-eighths of Australia's production of titanium minerals are processed overseas. The evidence with expandingproduction suggest vast export potential.
The chemical industry has improving opportunity to expand based on Australia's resource endowments and the nearby fast growing Asian markets. There are many favourable influences as for example the deregulation of the gas industry in Western Australia with prices falling by one-half. In response, BHP has made a US$1bn investment for production ofdirect reduced iron). Lower raw material and operating costs will favour world-class energy-intensive activities that may include a petrochemical project and the production of magnesium metal.
The opportunities for manufacture will be described in updates to this section. This will include caustic soda. During 1995, Australia imported 1.1 million tonnes of caustic soda valued at A$385 million. Not only indicating potential, it also points to the awkwardness of the industry. Australia is a major exporter of energy by way of natural gas (and coal) and salt, in addition to caustic soda, it also imports some A$100 million of vinyl chloride monomer containing some 100 000 tonnes of chlorine. There are many opportunities.