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India: FACT-RCF Building Products Ltd (FRBL), a joint venture between Fertilisers and Chemicals Travancore (FACT) and the Mumbai-based Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers (RCF), is expected to commission its gypsum-based reinforced wall panel and building components plant by September 2011.
The FRBL plant in Ambalamedu, Kerala is worth USD22.43m and is a 50:50 joint venture between the two public sector fertiliser companies. The unit is being built on 12 acres of land at FACT's Ambalamedu site.
According to a statement issued by the FRBL on 29 June 2011, the project is now 97% complete, with all machinery having been erected. The wet gypsum handling section has now been commissioned.
The calciner has been successfully lit up and some plaster was first made during the last week of May 2011. This unit is now fully operational. The start of the commissioning process for the mixing plant is expected towards the end of July 2011.
A team of engineers from Rapid Building Systems, the Australian technology and machinery provider for the project, is expected to arrive in Kochi and take up the commissioning of the wall panel manufacturing unit in September 2011.
The fibreglass reinforced gypsum panels are expected to revolutionise building culture in Kerala. The project originated with the idea of utilising the nearly 6Mt of gypsum stockpiled at the Ambalamedu and Udyogamandal sites owned by FACT.
The fibreglass reinforced panels can replace brick walls and give substantial savings in time and money invested in conventional buildings. Savings in cement, bricks and scarcer resources such as river sand are highlights of the new building component. Construction time can be reduced to about one-fifth of the normal time taken for erecting a conventional building.
The new FRBL unit has a capacity to produce around 39,000 panels, each of 36m2, per year. Interior wall putty and interior wall plaster will be other products from the new joint venture. The plant will require over 0.1Mt/yr of gypsum.
US: On 21 June 2011 United States Gypsum Co. was assigned a patent for 'Gypsum-containing product and method for producing same.' The inventors were named as Qiang Yu, Steven W Sucech, Brent E Groza, Raymond J Mlinac, Frederick T Jones and Paul J Henkels, all from the US.
According to the abstract released by the US Patent & Trademark Office, 'The invention provides a set gypsum-containing product having increased resistance to permanent deformation and a method for preparing it comprising forming a mixture of a calcium sulphate material, water and an appropriate amount of one or more enhancing materials chosen from condensed phosphoric acids, each of which comprises two or more phosphoric acid units; and salts or ions of condensed phosphates, each of which comprises two or more phosphate units. The mixture is then maintained under conditions sufficient for the calcium sulphate material to form a set gypsum material.'
Ukraine: Gross gypsum exports in the first five months of 2011 amounted to 27056 tons, bringing in USD2.01m. In May the country exported 6946t of gypsum, worth USD658,000. The values represent a 23% decrease in tonnage compared to the same period of 2010 and a financial decrease of 54.4%. May 2011 brought in 50.2% less than May 2010 in financial terms.
The leading exporters of gypsum in May 2011 were Knauf Gips Donbass LLC, Gipsovik OJSC, Ivano-Frankovsjiy Cement, Slate Combine OJSC and Mamalyzhskiy Gypsum Plant OJSC. The leading importer was Budfarfor Slavutsk Combine CJSC.
France: Lafarge's Olivier Guilluy has said that the company will not decide on a winning bid for its gypsum unit before September 2011. The business, reportedly valued at around Euro800m, has attracted around 10 serious bids from a variety of established gypsum wallboard producers and new players.
"In principle there will be no decision before the back-to-school season (in September)," said Guilluy. "A price has not yet been set for the division." In June 2010, local press reported that private equity funds, including Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. and Carlyle, were in the running alongside industrial buyers including US-based Eagle Materials.Sources close to the situation have said the gypsum unit may be sold by geographic zone, split into Europe, North America and Asia, depending on whether antitrust rules complicate the sale or not.
Despite the high level of interest, Guilluy added that Lafarge may yet scrap the sale, depending on a decision to be made by its CEO Bruno Lafont. Guilluy said, "The unit generated about 9% of group sales in 2010, with revenue of Euro1.4bn and a current operating profit of Euro58m."
Saudi Arabia: National Gypsum Company has released its financial results for the year to 31 December 2010, which show a significant decline in its performance compared to 2009. The company's net profit was down by 40.7% to USD 14m. Sales were down by 24% from USD 54.1m in 2009 to USD 41.1m in 2010.