This article is about the Australian company. For the municipality in Honduras, see Orica, Francisco Morazán. For the species of beetle, see Orica albovirgulata.
Orica Limited
Traded as ASX: ORI
Industry Metals, mining
Founded Australia
Headquarters Orica House
East Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Key people
Russell R Caplan (Non-Executive Chairman)
Alberto Calderon (CEO)
Products Explosives, Mining Chemicals
Revenue Increase $6.9 billion (2013)[1]
Number of employees
12,500 (2015)
Website www.orica.com

Orica Limited (ASX: ORI) is an Australian-based multinational corporation that is one of the largest providers of commercial explosives and blasting systems to the mining and infrastructure markets, a global leader in the provision of ground support in mining and tunneling, and a leading supplier of sodium cyanide for gold extraction. 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 Dulux Group leaving the company to focus on the provision of services to the mining, construction and infrastructure industries.

In November 2014, Orica Limited announced the sale of its Chemicals business to the Blackstone Group. As announced to the ASX on 2 March 2015, this transaction has now been completed, and the Chemicals business has also announced that it will be trading under the name 'Ixom'.

Corporate activities

Orica operates three primary business areas:

Mining Services

Orica is a supplier of commercial explosives and blasting systems to the mining, quarrying and infrastructure sectors.[2] Trade names used for packaged explosives include: Senatel™, Fortel™, Apex™, Amex™, Impact™, Simex™, Powergel™ and Eurodyn™.[3] "Power Gel" was a U.S. Registered Trademark for Hercules Inc. in 1967, but it is now owned by Orica Explosives Technology Pty Ltd.[4][5]

Mining Chemicals

Orica is a leading global supplier of mineral processing chemicals and services.

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 over 12,500 people worldwide. Net profit after tax was $602 million.[1]

The Managing Director and CEO of Orica is Mr Calderon. 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.[6]

Orica House

ICI House
Main article: ICI House

Once Australia's tallest building, the former ICI Building in East Melbourne, now Orica House, was Australia's tallest during the 1950s 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.


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 that outlines performance against key sustainability metrics.[7]

In 2014, Orica was identified as a global leader in Natural Capital Decoupling,[8] 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–BikeExchange professional cycling men’s team and co-sponsor of the Orica-AIS women’s team.



Bullying Scandal

In March 2015 then CEO Ian Smith was ousted from the business due to bullying of a female employee.[9] During Smiths tenure as CEO, the majority of the senior leadership within the organization left for other companies.

In Australia

Botany, New South Wales

Chlorination of the Botany aquifer

Remediation began in 2005 after production of chlorinated solvents by ICI over many years resulted in significant contamination of the Botany aquifer, a high quality sand aquifer located below the eastern suburbs of Sydney, New South Wales. 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 an A$167 million Groundwater Treatment Plant (GTP) to achieve containment of this contamination and provide high quality industrial water to Botany Industrial Park. Water produced by Orica's GTP saves Sydney's potable water supply around 5 megalitres (1.1 million imperial gallons; 1.3 million US gallons) per day (approx 0.5% of Sydney's water demand). Residents in the area were banned from accessing the groundwater. Orica estimated in 2012 that the GTP had been in operation for seven years of its 30year design life cycle.[10]

Mercury leak, 2011

The Botany chemical plant released mercury vapour into the atmosphere on 27 September 2011, breaching environmental standards for nine hours.[11][12] An air monitor located near residents at Banksmeadow[13] detected the mercury vapour and the Office of Environment and Heritage was notified.[11] 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.[12] The mercury vapour was associated with mercury which had polluted the soil on the Orica site, due to leaking pipes.[11] Robyn Parker, the New South Wales Minister for the Environment & Heritage said "I am incredibly angry and disappointed that yet again we have another incident with Orica."[12] In January 2013, the NSW EPA announced that it would conduct a review of off-site emissions of mercury.[14]

Mercury leak, 2012

On 17 January 2012 Orica reported a mercury leak at its Port Botany plant, the second mercury incident since August 2011. In a series of samples of environmental air, the EPA recorded a mercury level of 0.0049 grams per cubic metre (8.3×10−6 pounds per cubic yard); more than double the regulatory limit of 0.002 grams per cubic metre (3.4×10−6 pounds per cubic yard).[15] The leak occurred in December 2011 and Orica failed to report the leak to authorities until the following month.[16] 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 NSW Environmental Protection Authority said the incident was not linked to the mercury emissions breach in September at Orica's other Botany site on Beauchamp Road.[17]

Gladstone, Queensland

Cyanide leaks, 2012

On 8 June 2012 the Queensland Department of Environment launched a legal prosecution against Orica in the Gladstone Magistrates' Court. The company was charged with 279 counts of willfully contravening its approvals in relation to alleged cyanide leaks into Gladstone Harbour.[18] The government claimed that in January and February 2012, Orica discharged effluent water containing heightened levels of cyanide into Gladstone Harbour.[19] "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".[20]

Kooragang Island, New South Wales

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;[21] the fourth was a leak of ammonia from its site at Kooragang Island;[22] the fifth was an ammonium nitrate leak of 20,000 litres (4,400 imperial gallons; 5,300 US gallons) at its Kooragang Island plant, only a day after being allowed to reopen; and the sixth incident was a sulphuric acid leak of approximately 3,000–4,000 litres (660–880 imp gal; 790–1,060 US gal) at its Port Kembla site.[23] The fourth leak triggered a public forum and NSW Government investigation into the leaks, and the temporary shut down of the Kooragang Island plant.[22]

Hexavalent chromium leak, 2011

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.[24] An estimated 1 kilogram (2.2 lb) of hexavalent chromium was discharged from the Orica plant, with another 35–60 grams (1.2–2.1 oz) over the suburb of Stockton.[25][26] Approximately 20 workers at the plant were exposed as well as 70 nearby homes in Stockton.[27] Orica failed to notify government authorities until 16 hours after the incident and residents were not formally notified for three days.[28] Under a Prevention Notice issued on 11 August 2011, the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) closed the ammonia plant at Kooragang Island.[29] The hexavalent chromium leak was the subject of a New South Wales Parliament Upper House inquiry, that was concluded in February 2012.

Hunter River arsenic leak, 2011

Effluent containing high levels of arsenic leaked into the Hunter River from the Kooragang Island chemical plant on 19 August 2011 at 3pm.[30] 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 deposits of arsenic leaked into a storage pond and drained into the Hunter River.[31] It was estimated the arsenic concentration was 0.067 milligrams per litre, exceeding licence limits.[31] Barry O’Farrell, the NSW Premier said "two spills in a fortnight raise reasonable concerns about systemic failures in the way in which this company is operating its facilities."[32] O'Farrell continued, "I’ve had a gutful of families being distressed, by potential threats to their safety and threats to their local environment."[31]

Ammonia leak, 2011

On 9 November 2011 more than 900 kilograms (2,000 lb) of ammonia was initially suspected of venting to the atmosphere from the Kooragang Island plant during a 45-minute period. 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 (200 lb).[33] 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.[34] Six fire units and a hazardous chemicals unit were called to the chemical plant to deal with the leak of the ammonia gas.[35] Despite initial statements by Orica that the leak posed no public health risk,[35] two rail workers in the nearby suburb of Mayfield East were overcome by ammonia fumes and were taken to hospital with breathing difficulties.[33] 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.[35]

Ammonium nitrate leak, 2011

On 7 December 2011, in excess of 20,000 litres (4,400 imp gal; 5,300 US gal) of weak ammonium nitrate (<35%) solution/fertilizer leaked onto grassed areas at the Kooragang Island chemical plant. Emergency services were called to the site including a HAZMAT team.[36] 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.[37]

Hydrogen stack fire, 2012

On 8 January 2012 lightning ignited hydrogen being released from the plant. Flames higher than 20 metres (66 ft) leapt from the hydrogen stack and were reported by local residents to authorities.[38]

Port Kembla, New South Wales

Sulphuric acid leak, 2011

A spill of approximately 3,000–4,000 litres (660–880 imperial gallons; 790–1,060 US gallons) of concentrated sulphuric acid occurred at the Port Kembla chemical plant on 16 December 2011.[39] The leak was suspected to be caused by a hole in the ship-to-shore pipeline. Acting chief environmental regulator Mark Gifford from the NSW EPA said he was concerned about the ongoing incidents with Orica.[40]

In Mexico


Explosion, 2007
Wikinews has related news: Over 30 killed in Mexico dynamite truck explosion

On 10 September 2007, 28 people were killed and over 250 injured in Coahuila, Mexico, 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. Orica's website stated there were a total of 28 fatalities in 2007 - one worker and 27 contractors/members of the public.[41][42][43]


  1. 1 2 "Shareholder Results and Reports". Reports. Orica Limited. 2013.
  2. Simon, Hermann (2009). Hidden Champions of the 21st Century : Success Strategies of unknown World Market Leaders. London: Springer. ISBN 978-0-387-98147-5.
  3. "Packaged Explosives". www.oricaminingservices.com.
  4. http://tmsearch.uspto.gov Reg.No. 72286670, 11 Dec 1967
  5. http://tmsearch.uspto.gov Reg.No. 78327856, 13 Nov 2003
  6. "Orica Board". Executives and Committees. Orica Limited.
  7. "Orica Sustainability Reports". Orica Limited.
  8. "The Natural Capital Leaders Index". Trucost.
  9. "Orica's Ian Smith confesses to 'aggressive' behaviour". Sydney Morning Herald.
  10. "Groundwater Treatment Plant (GTP)". Groundwater Cleanup Project. Orica Limited.
  11. 1 2 3 Tovey, Josephine (28 September 2011). "Orica releases mercury vapour". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  12. 1 2 3 Vincent, Michael (28 September 2011). "Orica's safety record under fire after leak". ABC News. Australia.
  13. Tovey, Josephine (29 September 2011). "Orica leak prompts call for pollution law revamp". Sydney Morning Herald. Copyright © 2015 Fairfax Media. Retrieved 23 October 2015.
  14. "Independent review into off-site mercury at Orica Botany". NSW Environmental Protection Authority. 14 February 2014. Retrieved 25 May 2014.
  15. "Orica breach deeply concerning - New South Wales Government". Herald Sun. 18 January 2012.
  16. "Orica reports mercury leak from Sydney site". 702 ABC Sydney. 18 January 2012.
  17. "Another breach at Orica plant". Daily Telegraph. Australia. 18 January 2012.
  18. "Orica charged over toxic chemical leaks in Queensland". The Australian. 9 June 2012.
  19. "Orica facing fines for Gladstone Harbour releases". ABC News. Australia. 8 June 2012.
  20. "Orica uses enemy's ammunition to return fire". The Australian. 11 June 2012.
  21. Metherell, Lexi (28 September 2011). "Toxic leak in Sydney's suburbs". AM (ABC Radio) (transcript). Australia. Retrieved 29 September 2011.
  22. 1 2 "Orica leak sparks pollution law concerns". The Sydney Morning Herald. 13 November 2011.
  23. Wilson, Neil (15 November 2011). "Investors turn toxic on Orica after second plant leak". Herald Sun. Retrieved 25 May 2014.
  24. Fragnos, John (28 August 2011). "Health risk assessment of hexavalent chromium release at Orica Kooragang Island" (PDF) (PDF). NSW Health. p. 2. Retrieved 25 May 2014.
  25. "Revised figures reveal that lower levels of hexavalent chromium were present at Stockton" (Press release). NSW Office of Environment and Heritage. 15 February 2012.
  26. "Orica welcomes revised Chromium VI results" (PDF) (PDF). Orica Limited. 15 February 2012.
  27. Fragnos, John (28 August 2011). "Health risk assessment of hexavalent chromium release at Orica Kooragang Island" (PDF) (PDF). NSW Health. p. 2.
  28. "Health advice over Orica spill". NBN News. 12 August 2011.
  29. "Orica incident: Orica hexavalent chromium emission incident, Kooragang Island". NSW Environmental Protection Authority. 25 July 2013. Retrieved 25 May 2014.
  30. "Orica spills arsenic into Hunter River". Newcastle Herald. 19 August 2011.
  31. 1 2 3 Rice, Deborah (20 August 2011). "Orica chemical spill infuriates residents" (streaming video). ABC News. Australia: YouTube.
  32. Ford, Mazoe (20 August 2011). "Second leak" (streaming video). Channel 10 News. YouTube.
  33. 1 2 McDonald, Philippa (10 November 2011). "Orica plant shut down after ammonia leak" (streaming video). ABC News. Australia: YouTube.
  34. "Orica's crisis of confidence". Newcastle Herald. 11 November 2011.
  35. 1 2 3 "Latest Orica leak coincides with legal action". ABC News. Australia. 9 November 2011.
  36. "Another leak halts Orica restart operation". Herald Sun. 7 December 2011.
  37. "Residents anger over latest Orica leak". ABC News. Australia. 8 December 2011.
  38. "Lightning sets fire to Orica gas discharge". Newcastle Herald. 9 January 2012.
  39. "Port Kembla acid leak at Orica plant sparks investigation". Illawarra Mercury. 17 December 2011.
  40. Harvey, Adam (17 December 2011). "EPA wants report on latest Orica leak". ABC News. Australia.
  41. "Targets & Performance". Sustainability Index. Orica Limited. 2007. p. 19.
  42. "Dynamite blast on truck kills 23 in Mexico". CNN. 10 September 2007.
  43. "Reportan 37 muertos por explosión en Coahuila". El Universal - Los Estados (in Spanish). Mexico. 10 September 2007.
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