Gypsum industry news
Kyrgyzstan: On 11 December 2015, Prime Minister Temir Sariyev inaugurated the Kyrgyz-Iranian gypsum plant in Ak-Suu, Issyk-Kul.
Israel: Israel Chemicals (ICL) is selling its gypsum, pharmaceutical and cosmetics (PCG) business to One Rock Capital Partners for an estimated US$50m.
The sale of the PCG business units is part of ICL's 'Next Step Forward' strategy to divest its non-core businesses to focus on its core businesses in the agriculture, food and engineered materials markets. Israel Chemicals Performance Products' gypsum business is mostly in the UK and focuses on dental applications.
US: Oklahoma-based ACG Materials has appointed Paul Harrington as its new CEO. ACG Materials is a national provider of minerals, aggregates and related downstream products including gypsum, limestone, sand, gravel and anhydrite.
Paul Harrington joined ACG Materials in July 2014 as president and COO. Prior to July 2014, Harrington was executive vice president at Rain for Rent. Before that, he spent 24 years working for Holcim.
Australia: Gypsum Supplies has started loading from its newest pit at Lake Cowcowing, Western Australia.
Gypsum Supplies operates at Lake Hillman in Dalwallinu, Western Australia, where the family-run business has been supplying gypsum since 1978 to the industrial and agricultural markets.
"We are continuing to operate out of Kalannie as normal," said registered manager Daniel Nixon. "This pit is of very similar quality and analysis to the Kalannie pit." Naturally-occurring lake gypsum has a medium particle size and unlike synthetic gypsum, is not subject to rapid leaching from the soil profile and reportedly has superior spreading characteristics.
Gypsum is used in the agricultural industry for several reasons. It is used as a low-cost non-acidifying form of sulphur. Kalannie gypsum has 17.8% sulphur. Due to the high returns from growing canola in recent years, demand for gypsum as a low-cost form of sulphur has been strong.
Canada: National Gypsum Canada Ltd is looking to make what it calls 'the largest gypsum quarry in the world' even bigger. The quarry in Milford, Nova Scotia currently covers about 3.01km2. The plan is to expand operations by 1.44km2, 1.35km2 of which would be used for mining activities.
"We want to ensure that we have an adequate gypsum supply and the market is better than it has been," said Nancy Spurlock, company spokeswoman. An increase in US housing starts of about 1m units in 2014, up 8% from 2013, continues to drive demand for wallboard products.
National Gypsum has registered its proposed mine extension project for environmental assessment with the province as required under the Environment Act. "The anticipated average production rate for the expanded mine facility will be at the 20-year average of 3.1Mt/yr, depending on market demand," said an environmental report prepared by Stantec Consulting Ltd for National Gypsum.
The Milford-area mine has produced more than 134Mt of gypsum since it opened in 1954. National Gypsum employs 60 people at the mine and more workers will be needed if mining operations and the volume of product pulled from the ground increases, according to Spurlock. The quarry, one of eight the company owns and its only one outside the US, would grow over the next 35 - 40 years, depending on market demand. "It's a long-term forecast, and we need to nail down the source of our gypsum, that's why we're doing it," said Spurlock.
The proposed extension area includes forest, wetland, clear-cuts and some agricultural land. Six wetland areas would be protected by an ecological buffer zone. If the project is given the go-ahead, National Gypsum would open up areas as needed. The minister has until 9 April 2015 to grant a conditional approval of the environmental assessment.
India: The Centre of Mining has decided to put 31 minerals under the control of state governments by scaling down their status from major to minor as part of a mining policy change, according to Mines minister Narendra Singh Tomar. This allows states to decide the mining lease of the minerals, which account for about 60% of the total leased area in the country.
The decentralised minerals include gypsum, quartz, chalk and china clay. The change in policy will let states decide the rate of royalty, contribution to the district mineral foundation, procedure for grant of mineral concessions and rules. The Mines Ministry will allow states' public sector undertakings to explore minerals in areas under their jurisdiction.
"It is an important step in fulfilling the minimum government, maximum governance motto of our government," said Tomar. "This is being done to devolve more power to the states and expedite the process of mineral development in the country." States cannot lease out major minerals such as coal and iron ore without mandatory clearances from central ministries. High revenue earners, coal and iron ore, retain their positions as major minerals even after the policy shift.
The decision to broaden the list of minor minerals should drastically shorten the lease approval process because the state would be dealing with all the paperwork. Production should also increase. However, India could be treading on a minefield of environmental degradation if adequate protection measures are not taken.
Azerbaijan: Construction materials producers manufactured goods worth US$585m in 2014, some 22.2% more than in the same period of 2013, according to the Azerbaijani State Statistics Committee's report. During the period, Azerbaijan produced 2.98Mt of cement, a 40.5% increase compared to the same period of 2013 and 192,800t of gypsum, 23.3% more than in 2013.
Nigeria: Nigeria is to benefit from a US$500m investment in a new gypsum block plant, as an alternative to the conventional cement block. It is a bid by private developers that is projected to slash the total cost of housing by 50%, according to Kingsly Uka Okoronkwo, group managing director of Ojim Royal Investment and Property Limited, a real estate developer.
Okoronkwo said that Nigeria is blessed with diverse minerals, including gypsum, which at the moment is completely untapped. When utilised, it will help tackle Nigeria's housing deficit. "If I have to quote the words of the minister of mines and steel, Nigeria has a deposit of 12Mt of gypsum spread across 17 States of the Federation," said Okoronkwo. "We hope to utilise gypsum in crashing the price of house in Nigeria and create employment for youths." He added that gypsum reduces the cost of housing by 50% because it 'takes away' painting and plastering.
The gypsum block plant is expected to take 18 months to install, although according to Okoronkwo, there have been delays due to 'bureaucratic bottlenecks, which hindered the start of work in November 2014.'
"Our partners are very eager to start off because the finance has been secured and the interest is already reading," said Okoronkwo. "We're looking at US$500m for a start. In the first year of operations, we plan to build 10,000 houses."
India: FRBPL, a joint venture of Fertilisers and Chemicals Travancore Limited (FACT) and Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilisers Limited (RCF), has launched the world's largest load-bearing gypsum wallboard panels, which measure 12m x 3m and 124mm thick. The panels are lightweight and waterproof. According to Ananth Kumar, the Union minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers, the panels could revolutionise India's infrastructure sector.
Australia: A wet winter has delayed construction activity in key east coast markets as New South Wales experienced its wettest August in 16 years. Boral's CEO Mike Kane has told shareholders that more heavy rain could buffet earnings in its construction, materials and cement division during the rest of 2014 and 2015.
"Expectations could be dampened if we are unable to realise potential property sales and some level of price increase in this very competitive market and if we experience extended periods of adverse weather," said Kane. However, he added that Boral expected to more than double earnings in its building products division in 2014 and 2015, which made US$8m in earnings before interest and tax in the 2013 – 2014 financial year. Kane said that rising energy and labour costs remained a concern across the group.
Chairman Bob Every said that Boral expects a resources industry slowdown, particularly in Queensland. "We are expecting continued softening in roads and infrastructure activity for most of fiscal 2015 before a solid multi-year pick-up from fiscal year 2016," said Every.
"In our 2015 financial year we continue to expect ongoing strong results from construction materials and cement, improvements from both the building products and Boral USA divisions and improvements in the underlying USG Boral business," said Kane. "We anticipate return on funds employed to improve, despite the shift to equity accounting on Boral's 50% interest in the Gypsum joint venture." Boral made a net profit of US$173m in ist 2014 financial year, an improvement on a US$212m loss suffered during the previous financial year.
Every also announced his intention to stand down in 2016: "I was re-elected by shareholders at Boral's annual general meeting last year and at the time I intended that, if I was re-elected, that this would be my last term on the board. My intentions are unchanged. Therefore, I will not stand for re-election in 2016. I will work with the board to identify the best possible candidate for a successor for the role of chairman and I will help to ensure an orderly transition process."