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Industry action on emissions
The National Pollutant Inventory (NPI) provides information on emissions
around Australia to inform decision-making and to promote the need for cleaner
production and waste minimisation activities by industry. Industries around
Australia are taking action to lower their emissions by investing in new
technologies and practices..
The two roasters at Gidji are used to extract the gold
from ore mined at the nearby Fimiston Open Pit.
Through the roasting process, where temperatures
exceed 600°C, water and sulfur dioxide gas are emitted
to the atmosphere. Mercury that is present in the ore
itself is also released.
While the Plant operates within strict air quality
guidelines, it is Australia’s highest emitter of mercury
and one of Australia’s highest emitters of sulfur dioxide.
Figure 1 and figure 2 show emissions of mercury and
sulfur dioxide, respectively, as reported to the National
Pollutant Inventory (NPI).
Image credit: Michelle McAulay
The Gidji Processing Plant, operated by Kalgoorlie
Consolidated Gold Mines (KCGM) is located
approximately 17 km north-west of Kalgoorlie. Due to
the type of ore located along the Golden Mile, roasting
has been the most effective method of extracting gold in
the region since 1898. By the early 1900s, there were 88
roasters located along the Golden Mile. When KCGM
formed in 1989 the three remaining in-town roasters
were closed and replaced by the roasters at the Gidji
Processing Plant.
Figure 1 - NPI mercury emissions to air reported by the Gidji
Gold Roaster.
Reporting year
Figure 2 - NPI sulfur dioxide emissions to air reported by the
Gidji Gold Roaster.
1. Gidji Gold Roaster,
Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Western
Reporting year
2. Nyrstar Lead Smelter, Port
Pirie, South Australia
The Nyrstar Lead Smelter, based in Port Pirie, South
Australia, has been in continuous operation for more
than 125 years. It processes a wide range of lead-rich
concentrates and smelting industry by-products to
produce lead, sulfuric acid, zinc-oxide fume, copper,
silver and gold. The smelter is an integral part of the
Port Pirie community and indirectly sustains about
3,250 full-time equivalent jobs.
Nyrstar has been working closely with stakeholders for
many years to reduce blood lead levels in young children
in Port Pirie. In 2014, 81 per cent of children tested
were under the benchmark of 10 micrograms (µg) of
lead per decilitre (dl) of blood compared to 50 per cent
in 2005. Lead emissions from the Nyrstar facility,
however, continue to be some of the highest reported to
the NPI – see Figure 3.
Nyrstar is committed to reducing emissions from the
site and to reduce its environmental footprint. In
partnership with the South Australian Government, and
supported by the Australian Export Finance and
Insurance Corporation, Nyrstar is redeveloping its Port
Pirie smelter and replacing the out-dated sintering
technology with a Top Submerged Lance furnace
connected to a new acid plant and a new oxygen plant.
The redeveloped site is scheduled for commissioning in
2016. This facility will increase throughput by
50 per cent whilst halving emissions of lead to air and
reducing emissions of sulfur dioxide by 97 per cent.
This technology, in combination with a $3 million a year
Targeted Lead Abatement Programme, jointly funded
by Nyrstar and the South Australian Government, is
expected to increase the proportion of children under
Figure 3 - NPI lead and sulfur dioxide emissions from the
Nyrstar, Port Pirie, facility
Further information about the substances sulfur dioxide
and mercury can be found in the fact sheets “Sulfur
dioxide and oxides of nitrogen” and “Mercury
the benchmark 10 µg lead /dL of blood to 95 per cent
within a decade.
(sulfur dioxide)
To eliminate atmospheric emissions of mercury and
sulfur dioxide at Gidji, KCGM will replace the two
roasters with a large ultra-fine grinding mill by the end of
2015. Estimates indicate a decrease of approximately
200,000 tonnes per annum of sulfur dioxide emissions
and a reduction of four tonnes per annum of mercury
emissions. These reduced emissions will significantly
lower Australia’s overall mercury emissions and improve
air quality in the local region.
Reporting year
Further information on the transformation of the
Nyrstar Port Pirie site can be found at
3. Orica Kooragang Island,
New South Wales
Orica’s Kooragang Island plant, located near Newcastle,
New South Wales (NSW), produces ammonium nitrate
for use in the mining and quarrying sectors. The facility
has been in operation since 1969 and plays a significant
role in the local economy and community.
Since Orica became responsible for operations at the
Kooragang Island plant in 2003, there has been an
ongoing program of environmental improvements at
the site to address potential emissions to air, water and
land and reduce noise impacts. This program of works,
which was accelerated following environmental
incidents in 2011, has delivered reductions in emissions
to the environment. Projects have been implemented to
reduce oxides of nitrogen emissions to the air through
the installation of scrubbing technology in the ammonia
plant and purchasing of low oxides of nitrogen burners
in new furnace technology. The discharge of nitrogen to
effluent has been reduced through the installation of
source control systems, reverse osmosis technology and
increased focus by operation personnel on activities that
can affect performance.
Improvements were also made to ammonia handling
systems onsite to reduce the risk of a release to the
elimination and simplification of ammonia handling
reduction in pressurised ammonia storage
capture and destruction of routine and non-routine
ammonia sources, and
improved ammonia detection and isolation ability.
Figure 4 - NPI ammonia emissions reported by Orica
Kooragang Island facility.
Emissions (kg)
environment. However, in response to an incident in
November 2011 where approximately 90 kg of
ammonia was released to the atmosphere, Orica has
made further improvements to the ammonia
management systems. A comprehensive ammonia
management improvement program, which is being
implemented between 2012 and 2017, was developed
for the site and focuses on four key aspects:
This will see further reductions in the emissions of
ammonia to air.
In December 2014, the NSW Department of Planning
and Environment approved an application for the
installation of three ammonia flaring systems to destroy
non-routine ammonia emissions. The first of the flares
will be installed by late 2015.
The ammonia emissions from the Kooragang Island
facility, as reported to the NPI, are illustrated in Figure
4. NPI reporting enables the improvements in
environmental performance, for example as the result of
ammonia management improvement program
implementation, to be made available to the broader
community. The improvements in effluent quality can
be seen in the reducing ammonia levels in water for the
period detailed in Figure 4.
Reporting year
Air fugitive (kg)
Air point (kg)
Water (kg)
The reporting on substances, such as ammonia, through
the NPI increases community access to information
about the emissions that may affect them locally.
Ammonia emissions are included in the NPI as there are
potential health and environmental effects which can
occur, depending upon the nature of the emission.
Ammonia is a widely used chemical and is present in
commonly used household and industrial cleaners,
bleaching agents and disinfectants. It is also used in the
preparation of synthetic fibres (e.g. nylons), plastics and
explosives, resins, human and veterinary medicines,
fertilisers, chemical compounds, fuel cells, rocket fuel,
dyes, metal treating operations, refrigeration and in the
petroleum industry.
© Commonwealth of Australia, 2015.
This fact sheet is licensed by Commonwealth of Australia under a
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia licence. The views
and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors
and do not necessarily reflect those of the Australian Government
or the Minister for the Environment.
Note: While the Commonwealth has made reasonable efforts to
ensure the accuracy, correctness or completeness of the material,
the Commonwealth does not guarantee, and accepts no liability
whatsoever arising from or connected to, the accuracy, reliability,
currency or completeness of this material.