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The Duchess mine at Phosphate Hill in Western Queensland is about 1000 kilometres from the port of Townsville where its operators Incitec Pivot Ltd have warehouse and export facilities for storage and shipping phosphate fertiliser around Australia.

Mining and Processing on the one Site

The production of the company's ammonium phosphate fertilisers takes place at the mine site ore processing facility at Phosphate Hill where a beneficiation plant that treats the phosphate rock extracted from the open cut mine compliments a phosphoric acid and granulation plant as well as an ammonia manufacturing plant.

The Phosphate Hill operation employs around 250 people who reside at the on site mining camp while undergoing their shifts after being flow in and flown out again from either Townsville or Mt Isa when their shift is completed. The Duchess mine produces around 975000 tonnes of phosphate fertiliser annually a level of production that is obtained by it enjoying the best low cost cutting edge fertiliser manufacturing plants in the world. Incitec Pivot Ltd mine a large phosphate rock reserve at the Duchess mine and produce ammonia from gas secured with long term supply agreements.

Sulphuric Acid Railed in From Mt Isa

The Phosphate Hill operation is further complimented by the worlds largest sulphuric acid plant being only 150 kilometres to its north at Mt Isa. Sulphuric Acid is required when making ammonium phosphates. The sulphuric acid from Mt Isa is taken to Phosphate Hill by rail to be utilised in the production of fertiliser.

Phosphates Importance to Agriculture

Phosphorus fertiliser is critical to the agricultural industry in Australia because most soils in the country are deficient in the substance an essential nutrient that promotes plant growth. The advent of introducing phosphate in Australia's southern farming areas in particular has resulted in dramatically increased yields. Phosphate prices have increased over the last 10 years however owing to a world wide demand as it has been estimated that over 30 percent of the world soils are deficient in the product and new phosphate reserves are of a low quality.

World Shortage of Phosphate Looming

The use of phosphorus fertiliser on Australian soils remains affordable at the present time particularly now that farmers are are becoming more successful in using both water and fertiliser more economically. Currently 450 kilotonnes of phosphorus is used by Australian farmers annually and even with better farming methods becoming more widespread there remains considerable concern as to whether the future supply of Phosphate will be able to meet the demand as only five countries in the world contain economical amounts of phosphate rock. These countries being China Jordan United States South Africa and Morocco. Australia even with the vast deposit at Phosphate Hill only meets half of its phosphate demands each year.

History of the Duchess Mine

Duchess began life as a copper mine. A green ore body was discovered there jutting out of the ground by a pastoralist Alexander Kennedy in 1897. He chose the name of Duchess in respect for an Aboriginal woman who had turned up at his station homestead. It is said she had been the mistress of an English aristocrat called the Duke.

Copper mining began at the Duchess mine 1907 and by 1912 a railway line had been built to Cloncurry to bring in fuel for the Duchess smelter. By 1917 it had become a town with a population of around 1000 people. When the depression hit in 1932 the copper mine became idle.

Phosphate deposits were discovered at Duchess in the 1960s and produced enough income to keep the primary school and general store viable. The school closed in 1983 but the hotel remained. Today it is the largest phosphate mine in the nation.

Incitec Pivot Limited

Incitec Pivot Limited (ASX: IPL), an ASX 100 company, is a diversified global industrial chemicals company that manufactures, distributes and markets a range of explosives, fertilisers and chemical products and services to customers around the world. IPL holds a portfolio of recognised more


Incitec Pivot Limited
Level 8 28 Freshwater Place
Southbank, VIC 3006

GPO Box 1322
Melbourne, VIC 3001


Phone03 8695 4400
fax03 8695 4419

View Incitec Pivot Limited Page

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