Gypsum industry news
France/Switzerland: Saint-Gobain has extended its agreements with the Burkard family relating to the sale of the shares of Schenker-Winkler Holding (SWH), which holds the majority of Sika voting rights, to 31 December 2017. Saint-Gobain will then have the right to extend the agreement up until 31 December 2018. The building products manufacturer said that that the further extension reflected its determination to eventually buy Sika.
Saint-Gobain has attempted to buy Sika since at least 2014. An attempt to transfer shares of Sika from the Burkard family was blocked by a Swiss court in late 2016.
Ukraine: Saint-Gobain plans to build a gypsum wallboard plant in the Tlumach district of the Ivano-Frankivsk region. The Euro65m project includes the construction of two building materials units in the area, according to Interfax. A construction materials plant is scheduled for completion at the end of 2017 followed by a wallboard plant by early 2018. Both plants will be located near to the Khotymyr gypsum deposit. The new units are expected to create around 300 jobs.
Brazil: Saint-Gobain has finalised its purchase of the distribution network of Tumelero Materiais de Construção sales outlets in Rio Grande do Sul. The distribution company operates a portfolio of building materials and services for the construction industry including 29 sales outlets and nearly 1000 staff.
Following the acquisition Saint-Gobain says it will run the country's largest network of distribution sales outlets for home improvement products and services in Brazil with a total of 70 outlets operating under the Telhanorte, Telhanorte Conceito, Pro Telhanorte and Tumelero brands in 46 cities in São Paulo, Minas Gerais, Paraná and Rio Grande do Sul states. The transaction has been approved by the Brazilian competition regulator CADE.
France: Saint-Gobain's Interior Solutions division's sales rose by 1.5% year-on-year to Euro6.58bn in 2016 from Euro6.49bn in 2015. Its earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose by 9.6% to Euro982m from Euro896m. It attributed the rise in sales to good growth in the first half of the year with growth in most regions. It also noted that productivity gains and a fall in costs, particularly energy, drove a 'sharp' improvement in its operating margin.
"Saint-Gobain showed strong progress in its 2016 results. We saw the benefits of our optimisation efforts and of our development in emerging markets, in a more supportive economic environment than 2015. As expected, France stabilised over the year as new-build activities recovered. All other regions enjoyed good momentum. The group also benefited from its focus on pricing against a backdrop of lower energy and raw material costs," said Pierre-André de Chalendar, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Saint-Gobain.
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: British Gypsum has launched its Gyproc Habito plasterboard product to the retail sector. The plasterboard features a high-strength core that provides strength, durability and fixability. The product is intended to help create durable and robust commercial spaces, while improving design flexibility. Due to its strength it is being targeted at high traffic retail spaces where interiors are frequently redesigned.
"Retail is a sector that's constantly evolving to meet customer needs and requirements, so flexibility is crucial on any project. There is a lot of time pressure during construction to get a store open as quickly as possible. Due to a reduced need for patressing, Gyproc Habito speeds up the installation process in addition to providing the freedom to fix heavy items anywhere," said Paul Campbell, Head of Product Marketing at British Gypsum.
Thailand: Thai Gypsum Products plans to focus on links with partners to launch more products in 2017. Managing director Richard Juggery said this was part of this company's strategy to expand and strengthen collaborations with domestic and international market partners, according to the Nation newspaper. He added that the company hopes to grow exports or expansion plans in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. The subsidiary of Saint-Gobain has gypsum wallboard plants at Laem Chabang, Chon Buri and Bang Pa-in, Ayutthaya.
Switzerland: Sika has received an appeal by Schenker-Winkler Holding against a ruling by the Cantonal Court of Zug on 28 October 2016 that blocked the sale of Burkard-Schenker's shares to Saint-Gobain. At the time Saint-Gobain said that it still wanted to buy Sika and that its agreement with the Burkard family is valid until June 2017, with an option to extend it until December 2018.
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.
France: Saint-Gobain has appointed Jean-Dominique Senard as Lead Independent Director. The newly created role will oversee the running of the company's governance bodies. Senard has been an independent director since 2012. The board of directors has also decided to appoint Senard as chairman of the Strategy and Corporate Social Responsibility Committee following the retirement of Jean-Martin Folz in June 2017. Philippe Varin will become the chairman of the Audit and Risk Committee and Anne-Marie Idrac will become the chairman of the Nomination and Remuneration Committee. All the personnel changes will take effect from 8 June 2017 at the company's annual general meeting.