Gypsum industry news
Chile: Knauf has acquired Novochile for an undisclosed amount. The purchase includes a 10Mm2/yr gypsum wallboard plant in La Serana and gypsum mineral reserves. The plant supplies central and northern Chile and it will compliment Knauf's plant in Argentina. It will be the seventh that it operates in Latin America.
Argentina: Canada's Centurion Minerals has achieved its design capacity level of 2000t/day in January 2017 at the Ana Sofia Property agricultural gypsum fertiliser pilot plant located in Santiago Del Estero. The plant and operating team have been able to extract, crush and bag approximately 1000t of material since the unti started operation. Some of this material has been sold and delivered to Argentine fertiliser distributors. Centurion's local joint venture partner is currently negotiating supply contracts with distributors in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.
Gypsum is quarried at the site from near-surface, flat-lying beds within a sedimentary formation. The gypsum rock is fed into a hopper leading to primary and secondary crushers, then screened and sorted into two agricultural gypsum fertiliser products. The plant produces both a pellet-sized granular product and a powdered product, each comprised of a minimum 85% gypsum content, that are packaged into 1t big bags.
Argentina: Sales of gypsum wallboard have fallen by 6.8% year-on-year in 2016, according to data from the National Statistics and Censuses Institute (INDEC). Overall, the domestic construction sector declined by 12.7% in 2016.
Argentina: Demetra Minerals, the joint venture partner of Canada's Centurion Minerals, has entered into a purchase agreement for both a primary crushing facility and a secondary crushing unit for its Ana Sofia gypsum-mining project in Santiago del Estero. Once operational the pilot plant will process up to 40,000t/yr of gypsum for agricultural markets.
At present, upgrading and refurbishing of the primary crusher is underway and manufacturing of the secondary crusher is on-schedule. Demetra anticipates the crushers will be transported to the project site in early October 2016. Site preparation, including clearing, compaction and access road is nearing completion and concrete foundations are being installed in preparation for mounting of the crushing facility.
All mining extraction, environmental and export permits are in place to operate the plant and Demetra's fertiliser distributor in Paraguay has reconfirmed an off-take agreement to purchase up to 50,000t/yr of agricultural gypsum material at the current market price.
"We are extremely pleased with the advances our Argentine partner has made in designing and developing a low cost pilot plant operation. This initial plant facility will allow us to fine-tune the material delivery, crushing and processing operations while we complete initial and subsequent resource estimates of the property. Having a sales distribution arrangement in place will allow us to generate revenue offsetting the cost of resource delineation, operational expenses and processing expansion," said Centurion CEO, David Tafel.
The Ana Sofia project comprises two mining concessions of 50 hectares in size within a larger (approximately 500 hectare) exploration permit area. Trenching and test pit sampling work completed by joint venture partner Demetra Minerals in 2014 - 15 and Centurion in 2016 identified multiple, high grade, near surface gypsum layers. Small scale producers located in the vicinity are currently extracting agricultural gypsum and selling to fertiliser distributors and farmers.