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Orica Limited
Type Public
Traded as ASXORI
Industry Metals and Mining
Founded Australia
Headquarters Orica House
East Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Key people

Russell R Caplan (Chairman, Non Exec. Director)

Ian Kingsley Smith (CEO)
Products Explosives, Chemicals
Revenue Increase $6.9 billion (2013)[1]
Employees 15,000 (2013)
Website www.orica.com

Orica is a multinational corporation that provides commercial blasting systems, mining and tunneling support systems, and various chemical products. The company operates in more than 50 countries worldwide and serves customers in more than 100.


Initially formed over 130 years ago as Jones, Scott and Co., a supplier of explosives during the Victorian gold rush, the company was bought by Nobel Industries. Nobel later merged with several British chemical manufacturers to form Imperial Chemical Industries, In 1928, Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand (ICIANZ) was incorporated to acquire and coordinate all the Australasian interests of ICI Plc.

In July 1997, ICI Australia became an independent Australasian company after its parent company, ICI Plc, divested its 62.4 per cent shareholding in the company.

As a result of the selldown ICI Australia was required to change its name and on 2 February 1998 became known as Orica.

In 2010, Orica successfully demerged DuluxGroup leaving the company 90 percent focused on the provision of services to the mining, construction and infrastructure industries.

Current position[edit]

Orica now operates four primary business areas:

  • Mining Services: Orica is the largest single supplier of commercial explosives and blasting systems to the mining, quarrying and infrastructure sectors.[2]
  • Mining Chemicals: Orica is the largest single supplier of sodium cyanide for use in gold extraction, and Australia and New Zealand's largest supplier and trader of chemical products to mining, water treatment and other industrial markets.
  • General Chemicals: Orica supplies chemicals to the agriculture, building and construction, food and beverage, pharmaceutical and personal care, plastics, pulp and paper and water treatment industries.
  • Ground Support: Orica is the largest single manufacturer and supplier of strata support systems, ventilation, water control and geotechnical solutions to underground mining and tunnelling markets.

Orica's revenue in 2013 was A$6.9 billion, with a market capitalization of about $7.4 billion. The company employs about 15,000 people worldwide. Net profit after tax was $602 million.[3]

The Managing Director and CEO of Orica is Ian K. Smith, formerly Managing Director and CEO of Newcrest Mining Limited. The board chairman is Russell R Caplan, Director of QR National, Chairman of CRC CARE Limited, former Chairman of the Shell Group of Companies in Australia and former Director of Woodside Petroleum Limited.).[4]

Orica House[edit]

ICI House

Once Australia's tallest building, the former ICI Building in East Melbourne, now Orica House, was Australia's tallest during the 1950s[citation needed] and was one of the first high-rise buildings in Australia's cities.

It is one of the few post-war office buildings to be found on the Victorian Heritage Register.[citation needed]


Orica is a member of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI), the Australian SAM Sustainability Index (AuSSI) and the FTSE4Good Index. These Indexes provide a benchmark for the performance of investments in sustainable companies and funds. Orica releases an annual Sustainability Report[5] that outlines performance against key sustainability metrics.

In 2014, Orica was identified as a global leader in Natural Capital Decoupling,[6] which shows the ability of organisations to ‘decouple’ financial growth from environmental impact, by increasing revenue whilst decreasing their absolute impact.


Orica is a co-naming sponsor of the Orica-GreenEDGE professional cycling men’s team and co-sponsor of the women’s team.


Explosion, Coahuila, Mexico[edit]

On September 10, 2007, 28 people were killed and over 250 injured as a result of an accident between a pick-up and a truck which resulted in an explosion. The truck was transporting about 25 metric tons of ammonium nitrate under contract for the company Orica near the cities of Monclova and Cuatro Cienegas. Exact numbers of the dead and injured vary according to source, but Orica's website state there were a total of 28 fatalities in 2007 - one worker and 27 contractors/members of the public.[7][8][9]

Botany Aquifer Contamination, Sydney, Australia[edit]

Production of chlorinated solvents over many years by ICI has resulted in significant contamination of the Botany Aquifer, a high quality sand aquifer located below the eastern suburbs of Sydney. The main chemical contaminant found in groundwater around the old ICI site is EDC (1,2-dichloroethane), a persistent organic pollutant and byproduct of the manufacture of PVC. Orica has built a A$167M[10] Groundwater Treatment Plant to achieve containment of this contamination and provide high quality industrial water to Botany Industrial Park. Water produced by Orica's groundwater treatment plant saves Sydney's potable water supply around 5 mega litres per day (approx 0.5% of Sydney's water demand). Residents in the area who had enjoyed the use of groundwater are now banned from using it. It is anticipated that the cleanup of the Botany Aquifer will take hundreds of years.

2011 incidents[edit]

Throughout August and December 2011 Orica had six major chemicals incidents or leaks in Australia. The first one was a leak of hexavalent chromium from its ammonium nitrate plant near Stockton that affected 70 households; the second one was the release of arsenic into the Hunter River at Newcastle; the third was of mercury vapours from its Botany site;[11] the fourth was a leak of ammonia from its site at Kooragang Island;[12] the fifth was an ammonium nitrate leak of 20,000 litres at its Kooragang Island plant, only a day after being allowed to reopen; and the sixth incident was a sulphuric acid leak of approximately 3000 to 4000 litres at its Port Kembla site.[13] The fourth leak triggered a public forum and NSW Government investigation into the leaks, and the temporary shut down of the Kooragang Island plant.[12]

Hexavalent chromium leak, Kooragang Island, Australia[edit]

Orica’s Kooragang Island chemical plant released hexavalent chromium into the atmosphere on 8 August 2011. The known carcinogen was released between 6 and 6:30pm and the spill continued for approximately 20 minutes.[14] An estimated 1 kilogram of hexavalent chromium rained down over the Orica plant, with another 35 to 60 grams over the suburb of Stockton.[15][16] Approximately 20 workers at the plant were exposed as well as 70 nearby homes in Stockton.[17] Orica failed to notify government authorities until 16 hours after the incident and residents were not formally notified for three days.[18] The Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) closed the ammonia plant at Kooragang Island, under a Prevention Notice on 11 August 2011.[19] The hexavalent chromium leak was the subject of a New South Wales parliament upper house enquiry, to be concluded in February 2012.

Hunter River Arsenic leak, Kooragang Island, Australia[edit]

Effluent containing high levels of arsenic leaked into the Hunter River from Orica’s chemical plant on Kooragang Island on 19 August 2011 at 3pm.[20] Arsenic had not been used on the site since 1993, however during a cleanup of a hexavalent chromium spill on the site the week prior, old despoits of arsenic leaked into a storage pond and then leaked into the Hunter River.[21] It is estimated the arsenic concentration was .067 mg per litre, exceeding licence limits.[21] The New South Wales Premier, Barry O’Farrell, said “two spills in a fortnight raise reasonable concerns about systemic failures in the way in which this company is operating its facilities.”[22] Further, Premier O’Farrell said, “I’ve had a gutful of families being distressed, by potential threats to their safety and threats to their local environment.”[21]

Ammonia leak, Kooragang Island, Australia[edit]

Initially, more than 900 kilograms of ammonia was suspected of venting to the atmosphere from Orica’s plant on Kooragang Island, during a 45 minute period, on 9 November 2011. The venting was due to a relief valve operating to prevent overpressure of a liquid ammonia tank. Engineering studies subsequently revised the amount down to ~90 kilograms.[23] The leak was identified by firefighters responding to an alarm raised by the hospitalisation of two railway workers at Mayfield who were affected by the plume of escaping gas.[24] Six fire units and a hazardous chemicals unit were called to the chemical plant to deal with the leak of the ammonia gas.[25] Despite initial statements by Orica that the leak posed no public health risk,[25] two rail workers in the nearby suburb of Mayfield East were overcome by ammonia fumes and were taken to hospital with breathing difficulties.[23] Less than an hour before the ammonia leak, the Environment Protection Authority announced it would take Orica to court over the hexavalent chromium leak which occurred on 8 August 2011 at the same plant.[25]

Mercury leak, Botany, Australia[edit]

The Orica chemical plant at Botany released mercury vapour into the atmosphere on 27 September 2011, breaching environmental standards for nine hours.[26][27] An air monitor located near residents at Banksmeadow[28] detected the mercury vapour and the Office of Environment and Heritage was notified.[26] Dr Mariann Lloyd Smith, said the length of time the emissions last was extraordinary, "Mercury is extremely toxic. It is recognised as one of the most important and most hazardous toxins that we deal with, and there is currently a UN negotiation for a global treaty on mercury to address this," she said.[29] The mercury vapour was associated with mercury which had polluted the soil on the Orica site, due to leaking pipes.[26] The New South Wales Minister for the Environment, the Hon. Robyn Parker, said “I am incredibly angry and disappointed that yet again we have another incident with Orica.”[27] The NSW EPA is conducting a review of off-site emissions of mercury.[30]

Ammonium nitrate leak, Kooragang Island, Australia[edit]

More than 20,000 litres of weak ammonium nitrate (<35%) solution/fertilizer leaked onto grassed areas at Orica’s Kooragang Island chemical plant on 7 December 2011. Emergency services were called to the site including a HAZMAT team.[31] The spill occurred less than a day after the Environmental Protection Agency announced it would allow the reopening of part of the Kooragang Island plant. Local residents continued to criticise the company for failing to notify residents in a timely manner and called for the plant to remain closed.[32]

Sulphuric acid leak, Port Kembla, Australia[edit]

A spill of approximately 3,000 to 4,000 litres of concentrated sulphuric acid occurred at Orica’s Port Kembla chemical plant on Friday, 16 December 2011.[33] The cause of the leak is suspected to be a hole in the ship-to-shore pipeline. Acting chief environmental regulator Mark Gifford EPA said he was concerned about the ongoing incidents with Orica.[34]

2012 incidents[edit]

Hydrogen stack fire, Kooragang Island, Australia[edit]

On 8 January 2012 lightning ignited hydrogen being released from the Kooragang Island plant in Australia. Flames more than 20 metres high leapt from the hydrogen stack and were reported to authorities by local residents.[35]

Mercury leak, Botany, Australia[edit]

On 17 January 2012 Orica reported a mercury leak at its Port Botany plant, the second mercury incident for Orica since August 2011. The EPA recorded an air sample of 0.49 milligrams of mercury per cubic metre. The regulatory limit is 0.2 milligrams.[36] The leak occurred in December 2011 and Orica failed to report the leak to authorities until the following month.[37] The site of the breach was the thermal desorbtion stack at the company's carpark waste remediation project, which was closed when the breach occurred. The Environmental Protection Authority said the incident was not linked to the mercury emissions breach at Orica's other Botany site on Beauchamp Road, in September.[38]

Cyanide leaks, Gladstone, Australia[edit]

On 8 June 2012 The Queensland Department of Environment launched a legal prosecution against Orica in the Gladstone Magistrates' Court. The company has been charged with 279 counts of wilfully contravening its approvals in relation to alleged cyanide leaks into Gladstone Harbour.[39] The government will claim that in January and February 2012, Orica discharged effluent water containing heightened levels of cyanide into Gladstone Harbour.[40] "The charges are related to allegations that the company did not inform The Department of the Environment. The charges related to a breach of conditions rather than any environmental harm per se".[41]


  1. ^ Shareholders Results and Reports, http://www.orica.com/Shareholders/Results---Reports
  2. ^ Hermann Simon mentioned this company in his correspondent Book as an example of a "Hidden Champion" (Simon, Hermann: Hidden Champions of the 21st Century : Success Strategies of unknown World Market Leaders. London: Springer, 2009.- ISBN 978-0-387-98147-5.)
  3. ^ Shareholder Results and Reports, http://www.orica.com/Shareholders/Results---Reports
  4. ^ Orica Board, Executives and Committees, http://www.orica.com/About-Us/Board--Executive---Committees
  5. ^ Orica Sustainability Reports, http://www.orica.com/Sustainability/Sustainability-Reports
  6. ^ The Natural Capital Leaders Index, http://www.trucost.com/naturalcapitalleadersindex
  7. ^ Targets & Performance, Orica Limited
  8. ^ (English) Dynamite blast on truck kills 23 in Mexico, September 10, 2007, CNN
  9. ^ (Spanish) Reportan 37 muertos por explosión en Coahuila, 2007/09/10 - El Universal - Los Estados
  10. ^ Groundwater Cleanup Project - Groundwater Treatment Plant (GTP)
  11. ^ GERATHY, SARAH (2011-09-27). "AM Tuesday 27th-Sept". Radio Program / Current Affairs (in Australian English). Australian Broadcasting. Retrieved 29 September 2011. 
  12. ^ a b "Orica Leak Sparks Pollution Law Concerns". The Sydney Morning Herald. 13 November 2011. 
  13. ^ [1]
  14. ^ John Fragnos,(http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/resources/news/2011/pdf/stockton_health_risk.pdf), “Health risk assessment of hexavalent chromium release at Orica Kooragang Island”, 28 August 2011, p2.
  15. ^ (http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/media/DecMedia12021503.htm “Revised figures reveal that lower levels of hexavalent chromium were present at Stockton”), NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, 15 February 2012.
  16. ^ (http://www.oricaki.com.au/files/Orica%20Media%20Release%2015%20February%202012.pdf “Orica welcomes revised Chromium VI results”), Orica Media Release, 15 February 2012.
  17. ^ John Fragnos,(http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/resources/news/2011/pdf/stockton_health_risk.pdf “Health risk assessment of hexavalent chromium release at Orica Kooragang Island”) 28 August 2011, p2.
  18. ^ (http://www.nbntv.com.au/index.php/2011/08/12/health-advice-over-orica-spill/ “Health advice over Orica spill”), “NBN News”, 12 August 2011.
  19. ^ (http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/orica/ “Orica hexavalent chromium emission incident, Kooragang Island”), “NSW Office of Environment and Heritage”, 2011.
  20. ^ (http://www.theherald.com.au/news/local/news/general/orica-spills-arsenic-into-hunter-river/2264389.aspx “Orica spills arsenic into Hunter River”) “Newcastle Herald”, 19 August 2011
  21. ^ a b c Deborah Rice, (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e1SQ5og8nL4 “Orica chemical spill infuriates residents”), “ABC News”, 20 August 2011.
  22. ^ Mazoe Ford, (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_85jj_Pzeg “Second leak”) “Channel 10 News”, 20 August 2011.
  23. ^ a b Philippa McDonald,(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55NOyOG7Jls&NR=1&feature=endscreen “Orica plant shut down after ammonia leak”), “ABC News”, 10 November 2011.
  24. ^ http://www.theherald.com.au/news/opinion/editorial/general/oricas-crisis-of-confidence/2355014.aspx "Orica's crisis of confidence"), "Newcastle Herald", 11 November 2011.
  25. ^ a b c (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-11-09/latest-orica-leak-coincides-with-legal-challenge/3655816 Latest Orica leak coincides with legal action”),“ABC News”, 9 November 2011,
  26. ^ a b c Josephine Tovey,( http://www.smh.com.au/environment/orica-releases-mercury-vapour-20110927-1kvid.html “Orica releases mercury vapour”), “Sydney Morning Herald”, 28 September 2011.
  27. ^ a b Michael Vincent, (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-09-28/orica-safety-record-under-fire/3025480 “Orica’s safety record under fire after leak”), “ABC News”, 28 September 2011.
  28. ^ Josephine Tovey,( http://www.smh.com.au/environment/orica-leak-prompts-call-for-pollution-law-revamp-20110928-1kxcz.html “Orica leak prompts call for pollution law revamp”), “Sydney Morning Herald”, 29 September 2011.
  29. ^ Lexi Metherell, (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-09-28/orica-safety-record-under-fire/3025480 “Orica’s safety record under fire after leak”), “ABC News”, 28 September 2011.
  30. ^ http://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/Oricabotanycttee/indrevoricabotany.htm
  31. ^ (http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaking-news/another-leak-halts-orica-restart-operation/story-e6frf7jx-1226216593942 “Another leak halts Orica restart operation”), “Herald Sun”, 7 December 2011.
  32. ^ (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-12-08/residents-anger-over-latest-orica-leak/3719196 “Residents anger over latest Orica leak”), “ABC News”, 8 December 2011.
  33. ^ (http://www.illawarramercury.com.au/news/local/news/general/port-kembla-acid-leak-at-orica-plant-sparks-investigation/2396258.aspx “Port Kembla acid leak at Orica plant sparks investigation”), “Illawarra Mercury”, 17 December 2011.
  34. ^ Adam Harvey,( http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-12-17/epa-wants-report-on-latest-orica-leak/3736220?section=nsw “EPA wants report on latest Orica leak”), “ABC News”, 17 December 2011.
  35. ^ (http://www.theherald.com.au/news/local/news/general/lightning-sets-fire-to-orica-gas-discharge/2413166.aspx "Lightning sets fire to Orica gas discharge"), "Newcastle Herald", 9 January 2012.
  36. ^ (http://www.heraldsun.com.au/business/orica-breach-deeply-concerning-new-south-wales-government/story-fn7j19iv-1226247060543 "Orica breach deeply concerning - New South Wales Government"), "Herald Sun", 18 January 2012.
  37. ^ (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-01-18/orica-reports-mercury-leak-from-sydney-site/3779634/?site=sydney "Orica reports mercury leak from Sydney site"), "702 ABC Sydney", 18 January 2012.
  38. ^ (http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/sydney-nsw/another-breach-at-orica-plant/story-e6freuzi-1226246889017 "Another breach at Orica plant", 18 January 2012.
  39. ^ (http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/orica-charged-over-toxic-chemical-leaks-in-queensland/story-e6frg6nf-1226389508913 "Orica charged over toxic chemical leaks in Queensland", 9 June 2012.
  40. ^ (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-06-08/orica-facing-fines-for-gladstone-harbour-releases/4061340 "Orica facing fines for Gladstone Harbour releases", 08 June 2012.
  41. ^ (http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/mining-energy/orica-uses-enemys-ammunition-to-return-fire/story-e6frg9df-1226390486196 "Orica uses enemy's ammunition to return fire", 11 June 2012.