MAJOR fertiliser business Incitec Pivot is off to a bad start to the year.
The company announced its profits for 2016 would be down by $14 million due to a train derailment which occurred in Queensland on December 27.
However, the accident will not affect the full-year production of fertiliser at the group's Phosphate Hill plant, which is expected to be 950,000 tonnes.
Incitec Pivot said it expected full production to resume from the third week of January.
By bringing forward planned maintenance, the group anticipated it would be able to offset the impact of the phosphate production disruption resulting from the lack of supplies of sulphuric acid to the plant.
The train, operated by third party freight company Aurizon, was transporting close to 200,000 litres of sulphuric acid for use at Incitec’s Phosphate Hill fertiliser manufacturing facility in Queensland. At least one carriage ruptured and leaked.
Incitec Pivot informed Queensland Rail mid-week that an additional wagon might also have a very minor leak, which was being treated on-site.
Initially, police had reported leaks from a single carriage with an estimated 31,500 litres of acid having escaped.
The train derailed near Julia Creek while en route from Townsville. It is unclear what caused the crash but there had been heavy rain in the region.
Rail services continue to be disrupted at the site but in a statement an Incitec Pivot spokesperson said key materials were being transported between the company’s Mt Isa and Phosphate Hill facilities. They said full plant operations would resume by the third week of January.
While it will take a huge financial hit the company spokesperson did not expect customers to feel the hurt, saying domestic fertiliser supply would not be disrupted.
Aurizon was reticent about its likely exposure to the incident.
"It's too early to quantify any impact at this stage," an Aurizon spokesman said.
"We are unaware of the full extent of the damage and how many acid containers leaked," the spokesman said.