Gypsum industry news
Canada: The government has opened its Drywall Support Program for applications until the end of May 2017. This program provides drywall contractors and builders in Western and Northern Canada with compensation for elevated drywall costs due to anti-dumping duties imposed on imported drywall from the US, according to Canadian Newswire. The initiative is also intended to homeowners in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB) whose homes were severely damaged or destroyed by the 2016 wildfires and are now facing higher rebuilding costs. The US$9m scheme will be administered by Western Economic Diversification Canada and the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency.
Ethiopia: Habesha Cement plans to produce gypsum wallboard. In an interview with the Capitol Ethiopia newspaper Mesfin Abi, the chief executive of the company, announced plans to target the imported market locally and export wallboard also. Habesha Cement operates a 1.4Mt/yr cement plant near to Addis Ababa that is expected to start selling products locally in the coming weeks.
Canada: Residents rebuilding their homes in Fort McMurray, Alberta will be compensated for duties liable on gypsum wallboard imported from the US. Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau made the announcement, according to the Canadian Press. A source quoted by the agency said that it is part of the government's response to a Canadian International Trade Tribunal (CITT) ruling that lobbied it to cut duties imposed on wallboard products being imported into Western Canada from the US. The CITT ruled that gypsum wallboard imports from the US had 'hurt' the local industry in January 2017 but, in a separate ruling, it also recognised that competition had been 'substantially' reduced in Western Canada.
US: USG is celebrating the centennial anniversary of its Sheetrock brand, developed as the world's first wallboard panel in 1917. To observe the anniversary USG is hosting celebrations across North America with its employees, dealers and customers. Limited quantities of commemorative products celebrating the anniversary will also be shared with customers and dealers.
"From the first simple wallboard panel developed 100 years ago to the breadth of high-performing panels available today, USG has led the industry in innovation," said Jennifer Scanlon, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of USG Corporation. "We are thrilled to celebrate a century of excellence and product leadership. We are proud that USG's Sheetrock brand is one of the world's most recognised brands."
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.
Canada: The federal government has asked for a faster review of anti-dumping tariffs on gypsum wallboard imports. However, the new schedule isn't expected to immediately reduce the duties, according to the Canadian Press. The Finance Department says it wants to help middle-class families in Western Canada, especially those involved in the reconstruction of Fort McMurray, Alberta following wildfires earlier in 2016 that destroyed large numbers of buildings.
"I am grateful to hear the federal government is responding to our concerns and the concerns of people across Fort McMurray with the recent ruling by Canada Border Services Agency that effectively closed Western Canada from imported drywall,'' said Brian Jean, the leader of the opposition Wildrose Party in a statement. He added that his party will continue to ask the government to suspend the tariff during its review or exempt wallboard coming into Fort McMurray from the tax.
In September 2016 the Canada Border Services Agency imposed preliminary tariffs of up to 277% cent on US gypsum wallboard imported into Canada for use in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and the Yukon and Northwest Territories. The agency said it was responded to a complaint by CertainTeed Gypsum Canada.
US: Louisiana's attorney general Jeff Landry says he has cancelled contracts with attorneys involved in state suits against Chinese gypsum wallboard companies, and is auditing nearly US$7m worth of contracts. Landry said he's auditing the billing and work under five contracts to see what they've done to help Louisiana's case. His office will take over the work, according to Associated Press.
"The state has spent nearly US$7m on outside legal counsel for the Chinese drywall litigation," said Landry. "This use of taxpayers' hard-earned money comes to an end under my watch." He added that payments to the firms ranged from nearly US$5.6m to the Perkins Coie law firm to US$101,700 to the Theriot Group.
Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin and four companies it supplied agreed in 2010 to pay for home repairs relating to damage caused by Chinese gypsum wallboard used mainly in the south of the US. District Judge Eldon Fallon has ruled that Taishan Gypsum must pay damages, and is considering the amount.
China: The Ministry of Justice has returned a lawsuit in which thousands of US homeowners say a 'cabinet-level' agency should pay for damage to their homes from alleged defective wallboard made in China. The ministry says it won't serve the legal papers because the agency is immune to such lawsuits and the legal service would infringe upon China's sovereignty.
US District Judge Eldon Fallon has ruled that Taishan Gypsum Company must pay for damages from the wallboard it made. The judge is considering damages for up to 4000 homeowners in six states. The brief letter from Beijing became part of the court record this week, about 21 months after lawyers for the homeowners sued the state-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, which oversees 117 state-owned companies. It was dated 8 April 2016.
Fallon ruled in 2010 that Taishan's wallboard emitted sulphur gas that damaged the homes of seven 'bellwether' plaintiffs from Virginia, making occupants ill, corroding copper, silver and other metals, damaging appliances and electronics, and stinking up the houses so they were "hard if not impossible to live in." The other states involved in the lawsuit include Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, according to Associated Press.
US: CertainTeed has launched its new Habito wallboard, which it says is the strongest and hardest 1/2-inch (12.5mm) wallboard on the market.
Dave Engelhardt, President of CertainTeed Gypsum, said that the product helps eliminate the frustration homeowners have when hanging heavy objects as Habito can hold heavy objects without involving anchors or wall studs.
"Habito continues our emphasis on providing innovative products that offer practical solutions to builders and homeowners," said Engelhardt. The manufacturer pointed to the following features:
• Fastening capability: Fixing capabilities that eliminate the need for threaded wallboard anchors or nailing to wall studs for fixtures under 13.6kg.
• Builder and developer upgrades: Offers professionals an upmarket option, replacing standard wallboard in high-traffic and high-impact areas of the home.
• Better acoustics: Delivers homeowners better sound insulation than traditional wallboard.
UK: Wastecycle's recycling facility in Colwick, Nottinghamshire is now one of the largest in the UK after an expansion of the site. By acquiring seven acres of property, which the company previously leased, and buying an additional four acres, Wastecycle has extended its site to nearly 20 acres.
"It's an exciting time for us because this expansion provides us with the platform we need to reach the next stage of growth as a company," said Financial Director Nathan Cole. "Over the long term, we plan to use the additional land to expand our extensive recycling and resource management activities. This will help us broaden the services we offer our customers while improving the quality and sustainability of the recycled products we manufacture."
The company has also completed an expansion of its main office to accommodate its growing workforce. After a 20% growth in staff 2015, it now employs almost 300 people across its Colwick site and its two sites in Leicestershire. "Ensuring our teams are comfortable in their working environments is very important to us because, not only does it increase productivity, but it also creates positive morale," said Cole. "Larger premises also provide the opportunity to open up new jobs, while improving the quality of service we can provide to customers."
Wastecycle separates 500,000t/yr of waste, including 18,000t/yr of recycling from 126,131 homes in the Nottingham City Council area. Some of the waste is turned into refuse-derived fuel (RDF) for use at cement plants. It also sorts through the rubbish of thousands of businesses across Nottinghamshire, runs a skip hire service and operates a wallboard recycling facility, which it developed with British Gypsum.
In 2014, Wastecycle's turnover increased to Euro42.8m from Euro35.9m in 2013. In 2015, it won four awards, including a bronze environmental best practice accolade at the Green Apple Awards in November 2015. It was recognised for the success of its wallboard recycling scheme, which has prevented more than 30,000t/yr of wallboard from reaching landfill.