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.
Australia: Minotaur Exploration is looking to sell its gypsum deposit at Lake Purdilla, Eyre Peninsula in South Australia. The mineral exploration company reports that the 87Mt deposit has an estimated purity of 91% gypsum consisting of gypsarenite and selenite. The site has been classified as an Inferred Resource based on previous drilling programmes.
Lake Purdilla is believed to be the largest known undeveloped gypsum resource in South Australia. Minotaur Exploration estimates that the site could be mined at a rate of 1Mt/yr for over 50 years. Gypsum from the site would be suitable for domestic use for wallboard production, cement manufacture and agricultural use. It could also be eligible for export to Southeast Asia.
Previously Minotaur Exploration agreed a sale worth US$4.8m for the Lake Purdilla gypsum deposit in late October 2014. The buyer was unnamed.
US: Transnational Group has entered into a mining lease agreement with the Nevada Outdoor School (NOS) to secure full rights to mine gypsum on several claims located in southern Nevada that comprise the Mount Vista Gypsum property.
According to the agreement, Transnational has acquired full mining rights of any gypsum that is located on the Mount Vista property in exchange for a production royalty. There are 12 claims included in the lease agreement that comprise a total of 1.86km2. The term of the company's mining lease for Mount Vista is 10 years with three five-year renewable options.
"Transnational is excited to announce the finalisation of our agreement with the Nevada Outdoor School that will allow us to mine gypsum and limestone contained in Mount Vista at an agreed upon royalty. This agreement enables the possibility of discovery and mining other valuable minerals and metals as well," said CEO of Transnational Group, Philip Dutoit. The agreement stipulates that the company will negotiate a separate royalty agreement with the NOS for each resource.
India: Rajasthan's suspended mining secretary Ashok Singhvi, who was arrested for allegedly running a massive bribery racket, was instrumental in throwing open Rajasthan's gypsum reserves, which are the largest in the country, to indiscriminate mining.
On 17 August 2014, the mines department headed by Singhvi de-reserved gypsum mining in Rajasthan, ending the exclusive gypsum mining rights enjoyed by state-owned Rajasthan Mines and Minerals Ltd (RSMM). According to documents recently accessed by local press, the mines department threw open some 28.3km2 of gypsum mines without inviting applications or notifying specific mining zones, in clear violation of the centre's 30 October 2014 guidelines. Several of the leases were granted on 12 January 2015, one day before the central government promulgated the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) (MMDR) (Amendment) Ordinance, 2015, which ended discretionary bases of awarding leases and made auction the sole method of allotment.
The guidelines, issued to curb illegal mining, intended to provide greater transparency in the use of natural resources. However, documents show that the Rajasthan Mines Department granted 15 gypsum mining leases against applications dated before 17 August 2014, when gypsum mining was the exclusive right of RSMM and no applications for its mining could have been entertained from anyone else. Some applications dated as far back as 8 May 2012, more than three years before gypsum was de-reserved for mining by private companies. This meant that leases were granted to 'favourites' on back-dated applications so they could qualify on a 'first come, first served' basis. Leases were hurriedly awarded on this basis to avoid running into the new MMDR ordinance, which came in to effect on 13 January 2015 and mandated the auction route for granting leases.
Russia: CJSC Knauf Gips Baskunchak, based in the Astrakhan region, plans to start developing the Kashara-Tugai gypsum deposit before the end of 2015, according to company director Sergei Michkov.
"We are commissioning the Kashara-Tugai deposit, located north of Lake Baskunchak. We have received the development license and the documentation has been agreed. The reserves are quite large: it will support production for 100 years," said Michkov in comments reported on by Interfax.
Astrakhan region has reported 67.5Mt of gypsum registered on its state records. Knauf Gips Baskunchak had a total of 111Mt of gypsum reserves recorded at the start of 2015. Knauf Gips Baskunchak, which joined the Knauf group in 1998, produces high-quality dry mixes from gypsum and supplies gypsum to Russian cement plants and other enterprises.
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.
Australia: Minotaur has signed a conditional sale agreement on its gypsum deposit at Lake Purdilla on Eyre Peninsula in South Australia. Minotaur will receive US$4.8m in cash for the project, which is 5-15km south of Streaky Bay. The project has a target of 50-60Mt of gypsum. The sale is subject to the unnamed buyer conducting and being satisfied with a study into a port or trans-shipment of the gypsum, plus government transfer approvals.
Minotaur managing director Andrew Woskett said that the sale was part of the company's strategy to divest from industrial minerals and concentrate on copper, nickel and gold. "We've been trying to lighten our exposure to industrial minerals," said Woskett. "That's been proceeding for some time." The sale, which is scheduled to be completed by May 2015, would deliver more than the book value of the project. Earlier studies found that engineering work on a port was viable, but there were now more options, including barging and containerisation.
Canada: CertainTeed Gypsum is reportedly looking at opening a new gypsum mine near Canal Flats. The company currently mines at its Elkhorn Quarry West property near Windermere, which is projected to have between seven and 12 years of gypsum reserves left. The new mine, called the Kootenay West Mine, is projected to employ around 18 people, including drivers. The project start date for the new mine is 2017.
Romania: A Romanian investment fund, SIF Muntenia, has sold its 10.3% stake in Lafarge Agregate Betoane to its majority owner, Lafarge, for Euro1.3m. Lafarge bought 619,148 shares of Lafarge Agregate Betoane from SIF Muntenia at a price of Euro2.07/share. Lafarge Agregate Betoane quarries ornamental and building stone, limestone, gypsum, chalk and slate.