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New possibilities for NZ urea production

New possibilities for NZ urea production

Tenders have been called for a possible redevelopment of Ballance Agri-Nutrients’ ammonia-urea plant at Kapuni in Taranaki.

The only plant of its kind in New Zealand, Ballance CEO Mark Wynne says the call follows a year-long feasibility study including discussions with international specialists in converting gas to fertiliser.

“This has given us confidence to make the next move and ask global experts to scope and cost a re-development.

“It’s an exciting step – but it’s the first one on a long journey which includes board and shareholder approvals. We won’t be making any decisions before the year is out.”

Under the Companies Act, shareholders need to approve any investment requiring more than half the total value of company assets.

The Kapuni plant, owned by Ballance for more than 20 years, makes about 260,000 tonnes of agricultural urea each year – around one third of New Zealand’s total needs. It’s estimated that local production saves around NZ$150 million in foreign exchange annually in importation costs.

“The plant is well maintained, runs efficiently and is achieving higher production following a $21 million investment in late 2013. Nitrogen fertiliser plays a key role in New Zealand food production, and we need to take a long-term view on providing a reliable and sustainable supply which is globally competitive. Technology has also advanced and we need to consider the benefits of a new state-of-the art plant versus the cost of maintaining the current one,” said Mr Wynne.

“Additional benefits of a new plant, including world-class standards for efficiency, quality, safety and environmental performance, are part of an open-minded evaluation of our options.”

ENDS

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