PLANS: This 3D depiction of Ticor's sodium cyanide plant in Gladstone was included in cabinet documents from 1988 released earlier this year.
PLANS: This 3D depiction of Ticor's sodium cyanide plant in Gladstone was included in cabinet documents from 1988 released earlier this year.

The birth and death of Ticor's Gladstone cyanide plant

CABINET minutes from 1988 released early this year are revealing how Ticor's sodium cyanide manufacturing plant got its start in Gladstone.

The plant opened late in 1989 at a site 10km west of the Gladstone CBD, and closed in 2004.

A 1988 submission to cabinet from former premier and treasurer M. J. Ahern details requests by Minproc Holdings, renamed Ticor Limited, for the proposed facility.

The documents indicate the project was highly sought after, with interest from both the Queensland and Western Australia governments.

Minproc officials were leaning towards having the plant built in Queensland and wished to "secure a 'letter of comfort' from the Queensland Government" to assure financial backers the company was making the right choice.

A statement prepared for Minproc by consulting company Max Winders and Associates said Gladstone was identified as the preferred location for reasons including cost and availability of raw materials, distribution to market centres, infrastructure and town planning.

A serviced 70-hectare block of land in the Calliope Industrial Estate was also requested from Calliope Shire Council, with Shire Clerk R. Smith writing in a letter the location had "been identified in (the) council's proposed Shire Strategy Plan as an appropriate" one.

The 37 pages of cabinet documents revealed the sodium cyanide manufacturing plant in Gladstone had an expected capital expenditure of $40million, produced 16,500 tonnes of sodium cyanide yearly and employed 43 people to start.

The plant was eventually shut in 2004, after which Orica expanded production to fill the market gap.

In 2005 Melbourne-based Ticor Chemicals was delisted. Company chairman Dick Carter said the closure was triggered by changes in the global market for sodium cyanide.

The plant in Gladstone reportedly took up to four months to close, with the closure costing about $10 million.



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