Introduction on The Technical Ammonium Nitrate (TAN) Burrup Project

Project Works for next phase of gas downstream processing have begun at the Yara Pilbara Nitrates, Technical Ammonium Nitrate (TAN) plant in Western Australia’s Pilbara.

Ammonium nitrate, NH4NO3, is a white crystalline solid at room temperature and standard pressure. It is commonly used in agriculture as a high-nitrogen fertilizer, and been used in minning. Tecnicas Reunidas (TR) led technical ammonium nitrate project on the Burrup Peninsula, Western Australia is for Burrup Nitrates Pty, a company that has YARA International (from Norway), Orica Ltd (ASX-listed) and Apache Corp (NYSE-listed) as shareholders. Herewith, writer would like to share also advantages of building a Chemical Plant by using Modular Fabrication Techniques.

Abreviations / Definitions

COMPANY             Yara Pilbara Nitrates Pty Ltd.

CONTRACTOR       Tecnicas Reunidas S.A. (TR)

LIPs                         Loose Item Packages

TAN                        Technical Ammonium Nitrate

Main Contractor

Yara International ASA, has selected Técnicas Reunidas (TR) as the Main Contractor for the TAN (Technical Ammonium Nitrate) Project on the Burrup Peninsula, in the state of Western Australia, Australia.

Yara Pilbara Nitrates Pty. Ltd. awarded an EPC contract to TECNICAS REUNIDAS (TR) on 25th May 2012.

The contract will be on a lump sum turnkey (LSTK) basis with an approximate value of USD 500 million.

Yara has chosen TR not only as the main contractor for the whole project, but also has selected TR’s technology and “know how” for the liquid Ammonium Nitrate and Nitric Acid licensed by its 100% subsidiary company ESPINDESA.

The ammonium nitrate obtained using TR technology obtains a maximum level of porosity, of which converts it into a better product than that of its competitors. The proven nitric acid technology along with the recently developed ammonium nitrate, has converted TR as a world technology leader of prime material that serves as the base for the production of civil explosives, which in its majority is distributed to the fast growing mining and infrastructure sectors.

TR will design and build the project which has the following main process units:

  • Wet Ammonium Nitrate with a capacity of 965 MTDP.
  • Nitric Acid with a capacity of 760 MTDP.
  • TAN Prilling Plant (Dry Ammonium Nitrate) with a capacity of 915 MTDP which is Yara licensing technology.


The Tecnicas Reunidas (TR) led technical ammonium nitrate project on the Burrup Peninsula is for Burrup Nitrates Pty, a company that has YARA International (from Norway), Orica Ltd (ASX-listed) and Apache Corp (NYSE-listed) as shareholders.

TAN Burrup is owned by

  • Norwegian firm Yara (45%),
  • Orica (45%) and
  • US based oil-and-gas giant Apache (10%).

Yara International ASA is a Norwegian-based multinational chemical company. Its largest business area is the production of nitrogen fertilizer; however it also encompasses the production of dry ice, nitrates, ammonia, urea and other nitrogen-based chemicals. Yara has its headquarters in Oslo and the company has operations in more than 50 countries.

Yara Pilbara Nitrates Pty Ltd (YPNPL) (formerly, Burrup Nitrates Pty Ltd).

The company’s name was changed from Burrup Nitrates Pty Ltd to Yara Pilbara Nitrates Pty Ltd on 8 November 2012.

Yara will be the operator of the plant while Orica will manage sales and distribution.

A brief of the TAN Burrup Project

The plant would supply the mining companies in the Pilbara region, mainly for the extraction of iron ore in the area. For example the explosives would help cut out the large “benches” within iron ore pits, with the fractured ore-containing rock then excavated from the sites.

The plant is being built directly across from the existing Yara Pilbara Fertilisers ammonia facility, which will provide the production inputs for the ammonium nitrate.

  • Located near Karratha, Western Australia.
  • A plant has a projected capacity of 330,000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate
  • The design and construction component of the Burrup TAN Project is of modular design and the modules will be fabricated offshore and transported to site.
  • The total project schedule is 38 months
  • The plant will be operational in the third quarter of 2015.

Benefits for the Local Community

  • The Yara Pilbara Nitrate will source all 60 operational employees from the local community.
  • The project will create up to 400 jobs during peak construction and employment for 60 people to operate the plant.

Ammonium Nitrate ?

The chemical compound ammonium nitrate, the nitrate of ammonia with the chemical formula NH4NO3, is a white crystalline solid at room temperature and standard pressure.

It is commonly used in agriculture as a high-nitrogen fertilizer, and it has also been used as an oxidizing agent in explosives for minning industry, including improvised explosive devices.

The processes involved in the production of ammonium nitrate in industry, although chemically simple, are technologically challenging.

The acid-base reaction of ammonia with nitric acid gives a solution of ammonium nitrate:

HNO3(aq) + NH3(l) → NH4NO3(aq)

Ammonium nitrate can also be made via metathesis reactions:

(NH4)2SO4 + 2 NaNO3 → 2 NH4NO3 + Na2SO4

(NH4)2SO4 + Ca(NO3)2 → 2 NH4NO3 + CaSO4

Advantages of Building a Chemical Plant by using Modular Fabrication Techniques

Modular fabrication and construction offer a number of advantages over conventional “stick built” construction. (Source / read more: “Modular Fabrication & Construction”)

  • The bulk of the fabrication and assembly are performed at Contractor/Subcontractors facilities, which allows them to ensure all work is performed according to the high standards, under controlled working conditions.
  • By reducing fieldwork, we also minimize the project’s impact on the customer site, a significant advantage when the installation site is an operating plant.
  • Modular construction also minimizes lay-down space, an important benefit when the field site is small or congested, and
  • reduces delays due to adverse weather.
  • In-air work is minimized, and foundation requirements are often simplified.
  • Modular construction also results in fewer fitting errors and re-work because we can pre-fit components prior to shipment.
  • Requirements for highly skilled labor onsite are minimal, an advantage in areas where skilled labor is either costly or unavailable.
  • Procurement is often simplified, especially when the installation site is located in an area where raw materials and equipment are expensive or difficult to obtain.
  • In addition, modular construction can shorten schedules by allowing for concurrent processes, such as fabrication, permitting and logistical arrangements.

Modular construction is ideal for petrochemical applications in remote locations or where space is limited and where traditional on-site fabrication is not feasible. (Source / read more: “Petrochemical Modules”)

Feasibility Study, Public Environmental Review (PER) and Various Management Plans for Construction and Environmental Management

In 2010, a prefeasibility study was underway for the $800 million, 350 000 tonne per annum ammonium nitrate plant in the Burrup Peninsula.

In accordance with the Environmental Protection Act 1986, Yara Pilbara Nitrates Pty Ltd, prepared a Public Environmental Review (PER) document that described the Technical Ammonium Nitrate Production Facility (TANPF) Project and its likely effects on the environment.

The PER was made available for public comment in February 2010 and was approved in April 2010.

Various Management Plans for construction and environmental management are being finalized for the start of Site Construction activities. TAN Burrup Project Compliance Assessment Report (MS 870) was submitted to Office of the Environmental Protection Authority on 10th of October 2012.

Construction Environmental Management Plan (CEMP) approved by Department of Sustainability, Environment, water, Population and Communities (SEWPaC) on 22nd November,12.

Read for more detail: “PROJECT UPDATES

The Design & Engineering

The design & engineering activities have already started at TR, Madrid office.

The preliminary site works including the earthworks

The preliminary site works including the earthworks will be carried out by a Karratha-based contractor.

Production Facility

TAN Burrup project’s main contractor, Spanish engineer Tecnicas Reunidas, appointed Forge to construct the facility.

Australian engineer Forge Group has won a $70m contract to construct the Technical Ammonium Nitrate Burrup project‘s production facility.

The scope of work undertaken by Forge will include structural, mechanical, electrical and instrumentation installation.

TAN Burrup Modules Fabrication at NS, Batam

Tecnicas Reunidas appointed PT Nippon Steel and Sumikin Offshore Service Batam (NSB / NS, Batam) fabricates modules of various sizes and shapes.

These modules are then used to house piping and plant equipments.

  • Scope of Works: 132 modules (pipe rack, process module and ship loose)
  • All modules were assembled on specially designed by TR
  • Dimension details of LIP´s that has been thoroughly study to optimize the transportation conditions.

A Control Room, Emergency Centre, Office Building, Shift Laboratory and Transport Warehouse

McNally Contracting Pty Ltd or McNally Group is an innovative, privately owned Western Australian business has recently been awarded a contract for the Tan Burrup Project from Spanish company Tecnicas Reunidas.

  • The package includes the design, engineering, fabrication, transport to site and installation of a control room, emergency centre, office building, shift laboratory and transport warehouse.
  • Comprising 20 individual modules over the 5 buildings this project is to a very high level engineering specification provided by Tecnicas Reunidas.
  • Fabrication commences in early October 2013 and mobilisation to the site located near the Burrup Peninsula will commence in 2014.

Conveyors for an Ammonium Nitrate Plant

Christchurch-based manufacturer Southern Cross Engineering (SCE) is one of New Zealand’s largest mechanical project engineering companies with almost 130 employees, bidding for extra work in Western Australia, having won a contract worth about $10 million to build conveyors for an ammonium nitrate plant near Karratha.

Southern Cross Engineering has a base in Bromley and sales operations in New Zealand and across parts of Australia.

SCE won the tender against strong competition from Asian and European suppliers, and by

  • providing significant savings against the proposed concept.
  • Knowledge of Australian standards was also a significant factor.
  • The strength standards of construction also took into account the need for a “category 6 cyclone proof requirement” and the potentially volatile nature of the product.

The conveyors are part of a giant project to help manufacture explosives for the mining industry valued at around US$600m, and being built by Spanish contractor and petrochemical giant Tecnicas Reunidas.

  • around 16 conveyors totalling more than 800 metres in length.
  • The SCE conveyors would move the ammonium nitrate through the processing plant until the material was turned into small beads of the explosive.
  • The plant would also incorporate SCE stainless steel bucket elevators and associated handling equipment.
  • installation process could take four to six months
  • modules are fabricated at Bromley and then transported to Site in Karratha
  • components of the conveyor system would go through Lyttelton port to a port in Karratha

References / Read More :


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