Case Study: Burrup Nitrates Pty Ltd

Assessing the environmental, heritage, social and potential risk aspects of a proposed Technical Ammonium Nitrate Production Facility in the Burrup Peninsula of Western Australia


Burrup Nitrates Pty Ltd (BNPL) has planned to construct and operate a Technical Ammonium Nitrate Production Facility (TANPF) on the Burrup Peninsula, Western Australia. The project is a joint venture between Burrup Holdings Ltd (BHL) and Yara International ASA (Yara) and will result in one of the biggest TANPF to be developed in Australia (350,000TPA of TAN).

One of the key challenges for the project is that it is located in close proximity to important Aboriginal rock art sites, with the Burrup Peninsula recognised as having one of the largest concentration of Aboriginal rock art in the world. This location attracted significant scrutiny from government regulators, key stakeholders, the general public and the media.

This scrutiny required vigilant planning and management of the project issues with stakeholders to ensure expectations and understanding of the projects impacts were clearly defined and understood. In addition, the sensitive location of the TANPF required careful design and management to ensure no impact on the rock art would eventuate as a result of the project.

Another key challenge for ERM was the management of, and working with, a client based in both Perth, Western Australia (BHL) and in Oslo, Norway (Yara). This required putting in place rigorous project management systems and communication protocols to ensure effective and efficient operation throughout the 3 year long project.

Our Approach

In order to proceed with the development of the proposed TANPF, BNPL required environmental, heritage and risk approvals. An ERM project team consisting of consultants from around the world and including TAN and risk specialists from China, the US and eastern Australia, completed an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for both the Australian Commonwealth and local state governments, a Works Approval and Coarse Quantitative Risk Assessment (CQRA).

ERM was also responsible for conducting and coordinating baseline surveys for flora and fauna, social impact, noise, air emissions, greenhouse gas, light and visual impact, hydrogeology, acid sulfate soils and aboriginal heritage.

In addition to the above, ERM was also required to work very closely with the Commonwealth and State regulators to ensure the progress of the project and to appropriately address the complex environmental, heritage and social issues associated with this project.

ERM’s work continues to provide BNPL with environmental, social and risk advice, with ERM having been involved from the beginning of the project in June 2008. At present the project has received preliminary approval from both Commonwealth and State government bodies with the final conditions currently being finalized. BNPL plan to begin construction in late 2011 with operations expected to begin in late 2014.

Benefits and Value

Based on the work undertaken by ERM, BNPL could be confident that the environmental, heritage, social and risk aspects of the proposed development were being addressed and would support its application for permission to construct the TANPF. This has been evidenced by the recent preliminary approval of the project from both Commonwealth and State environmental agencies.

Throughout the project, ERM hasn’t only provided the client with baseline studies, reports and recommended management measures, but have helped them with strategic advice to help navigate the complex approvals system and significant public interest in the project.

Following finalization of project approval, ERM hopes to continue providing BNPL with environmental, social and risk advice associated with the implementation of management and mitigation strategies and ongoing monitoring studies.

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