Gypsum industry news
UK: Nottingham County Council has granted permissions to the Marblaegis Mine near British Gypsum's East Leake wallboard plant to operate for a further 17 years. The mine was originally licensed to operate until the end of 2025 but can now operate until 2042.
"The phasing out of coal-fired power stations means we have reducing access to synthetic gypsum or desulphogypsum, also called DSG, an important by-product we have been recycling into plasterboard since the early 1990s. We need to counteract this reduction in DSG output by increasing supply from mined and quarried natural gypsum as well as continuing to support plasterboard recycling programmes," said Jeremy Elvins, minerals and estates manager at British Gypsum to Inside Media.
The mine has an installed production capacity of 600,000t/yr but only 250,000t/yr is extracted at present. The mine supports 26 full-time staff at present although the nearby wallboard plant employs 264 staff and 125 contractors.
UK: Formula, a brand of Saint-Gobain, has awarded a five-year contract to Darlington-based Banner Contracts to extract high purity gypsum from its opencast mine in Newark, Nottinghamshire. Banner Contracts was chosen after a tender process involving eight potential suppliers.
The opencast mine, known as Bantycock, produces around 230,000t/yr of gypsum. Nottinghamshire County Council agreed a revised restoration scheme at the site following consultation. So far this has seen the backfilling of 25 acres with overburden completed and covered with topsoil in 2016.
"Banner's professionalism and expertise is second to none so we are delighted to announce this contract. Its experience in mineral processing was a key factor in its selection as it will help us continue to improve our yield of useable gypsum versus the amount of rock we extract. This improved yield helps maximise the reserve life, whilst operating in a safe and sustainable manner. We look forward to a mutually beneficial relationship over the duration of the contract," said Saint-Gobain Formula Plant Manager Mark Yates.
Banner Contracts Director Jo Banner added that the contract is a large one for the company and that it has invested in a new plant and equipment. New installations at the site include a Hercules trommell commissioned especially for the application, a number of Tesab machines including a 800i jaw crusher, a TS1860 scalping screen, a TS2430 screen and a Trackstack radial conveyor and a sizer from MMD.
China: 19 people have been prosecuted for misconduct related to the collapse of a gypsum mine in Shandong Province in December 2015 that killed one worker and left 13 persons unaccounted for. Yurong Company, owner of the mine, bears the principal responsibility for the incident, for failing to monitor and safely maintain the mine, according to the Xinhua news agency. Poor risk awareness and safety control, as well as inadequate regard for possible dangers in room-and-pillar mining were also causes the of the collapse. Yurong has been fined US$0.43m.
Three mine controllers, believed to be liable for the fatal accident, have been arrested by local police and two officials from the local land and resources bureau were found guilty of dereliction of duty. 14 other local officials have also been punished for violating the Communist Party rules. Ma Congbo, president of Yurong, who committed suicide after the accident, will not be subject to criminal liabilities.
France: Environmental concerns have been raised about Placoplatre's plans to develop a open-cast gypsum quarry at Fort de Vaujours near Paris. The site is believed to contain enough high-end gypsum for the Saint-Gobain subsidiary's nearby wallboard plant and for other plants in the group, according to Deutsche Welle. However, environmentalists have raised the risks of excavating a site near to the capital of France that was used for nuclear testing between the 1950s and 1990s.
"It's important to maintain our plant. We employ 400 people at the factory which generates 3000 indirect jobs and an additional average 1000 workers will be operating at the industrial site," said Gilles Bouchet, Placoplatre's head of mining development. He added that the wallboard producer has conducted impact and radiation studies that have been submitted to the French nuclear safety body ASN.
Christophe Nedelec, president of environmental non-government organisation Gagny-Les Abbesses-Chelles has queried the efficacy of Placoplatre's tests and has called for an independent body to conduct them.
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.
US: USG has sold its gypsum mine in Empire, Nevada to the Empire Mining Company for US$10.3m. The Empire Mining Company purchased the mine and associated land on 27 May 2016, according to land records accessed by the Reno Gazette-Journal. USG shut the mine in late 2010 and the locale has since been described as a 'ghost town'. USG has not commented on the sale.
US: Transnational Group has delayed the start of gypsum mining and production at its property in Sandy Valley, Nevada. It blamed the setback on unforeseen delays by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in issuing Transnational's exploration permits due to the agency's lack of resources. It anticipates that it will will be able to obtain the necessary permits to commence exploration at the site within sixty to ninety days, barring any additional requests or delays by the BLM.
"Due to delays imposed by the BLM stemming from its lack of qualified geologists in our area that could not be foreseen by management, the timeline of our Sandy Valley Project has been extended. However, we expect to secure an exploration permit in the near future and anticipate that Transnational will continue its progress towards producing gypsum on this property," stated Transnational Group's CEO, Philip Dutoit.
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.
China: Four miners were rescued from a collapsed gypsum mine in Shandong Province on 29 January 2016 after 36 days trapped underground. About 1000 people have been involved in the rescue efforts, complicated by falling rocks, unstable geological structures, water outbursts and carbon monoxide leaks, according to the Xinhua news agency. The rescue was made after a 220m shaft was drilled to the trapped miners.
One miner died in the accident on 25 December 2015, while 11 were saved immediately after the incident, according to the report. Thirteen miners are still missing. The owner of the mine committed suicide by jumping into a flooded shaft after the accident and several executives of the mine are under police investigation.
China: A 190m borehole is being drilled to rescue four trapped miners from a Gypsum mine in Shandong. It is the fifth hole that has been drilled by the rescuers since the accident happened on 25 December 2015. The hole will be used as an escape passage for the four miners, according to China Radio International.
"Now the drill work has reached the layer of red sandstone, nearing the mine roadway. Everything went well on overall. We overcame the difficulties when drilling previous layers, and now it's the final sprint. The layer of red sandstone is as thick as 30m," said rescue worker Sang Jingqiu.
When the drilling is finished, rescuers will send down a rescue capsule to the miners in the underground tunnel. Rescuers have been able to pass food and other vital supplies through an emergency hole.
When the mine collapsed 29 miners were working underground. Apart from the four trapped miners that have been located, 11 have escaped or were rescued, one is confirmed dead and 13 remain missing.