Zawawi minerals and United States Gypsum investing to set up gypsum mining and gypsum value addition

July 12, 2012

Zawawi Minerals LLC announced that the company had established two joint ventures with USG Group of the United States of America (USG Corporation) for gypsum mining, Gypsum Board and Plaster of Paris manufacturing projects in the Salalah region. The Gypsum Board JV is being setup with investments equally by Zawawi Minerals and USG Corporation. The manufacturing plant which is to be set up in the Salalah Free Zone will be designed to achieve a capacity of 8 million square meters of Gypsum Board and 200,000 MT of Plaster of Paris per annum in the first phase. In second phase the Gypsum board capacity may be scaled up to 16 million square meters per year in accordance with future demand.

Under the joint venture arrangement, USG Corporation brings with them world class expertise in mining and gypsum board manufacturing technologies perfected over its 100 years of experience in the industry. As an additional element, USG Corporation will transfer world class American technologies and skills into both Omani operations of gypsum mining and gypsum board manufacturing, thereby contributing to the nation’s industrial competence.

“Zawawi Minerals is committed to invest and participate in the industrial promotion of the nation, supporting the development march witnessed under the wise leadership of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said”, said Alawi bin Qais Al Zawawi, Chairman of Zawawi Minerals. “Part of our corporate agenda is our commitment and responsibility to adopt and deliver high international standards of operations for a safe and healthy environment for the local communities. This also includes bringing substantial, long-term benefits and job opportunities to the people of the Dhofar region. In addition, our mining and manufacturing projects in Salalah will enhance valuable foreign exchange earnings for the country as these operations are mostly export oriented”, he added. Incorporated in 1901, USG Corporation is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, and operates multi-billion dollar gypsum mining, manufacturing and distribution of high-performance building systems like gypsum wallboard, joint products and compound and a vast array of related products for the construction and remodeling industries. USG Corporation is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of gypsum board, ceiling suspension grids and ceiling tile. USG’s family of products provides creative building solutions that set new standards for productivity and efficiency, helping contractors and architects deliver high quality and innovative designs. USG has over 140 plants and large number of mines, quarries, transport ships and other facilities in North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific. The company has a long history of manufacturing products with low-environmental impact materials and technologies. USG’s Industry Leading Brands are Interior Panels and Substrates: SHEETROCK® Brand Wallboard, DUROCK® Cement Board and SECUROCK® Glass-Mat Sheathing.

According to Ramachandran, CEO of Zawawi Minerals, “the company has been investing significantly to conduct detailed technical exploration of minerals and commercial feasibility study. The Gypsum board and Plaster of Paris manufacturing facility will be set up in the Salalah Free Zone adopting American environmental friendly manufacturing technology complying with all applicable national and international standards related to safety and environmental quality measures. Our projects will be providing employment for over 320 people directly and indirectly, and we will pursue a strategy of training and employing local people to the highest possible level. The products manufactured with world class American technology will be marketed as SHEETROCK® Brand Gypsum Board with made-in-Oman branding, thereby enhancing the Omani industrial brand image in the international markets. Since part of the production will be used in the Sultanate of Oman as import substitute, the local vendors and contractors along with design consultants will have the advantage of using the product manufactured in Oman, thereby also resulting in development of related downstream industry”.

“Gypsum is a naturally occurring mineral that is made up of calcium sulfate and water, Gypsum is used for the manufacturing of many products such as Cement, Gypsum Board, Toothpaste, Medicines, Food additives, and Paint manufacture and in Agriculture etc. Gypsum mining is normally conducted under open cast mining mechanisms. The Gypsum excavation activity does not create any considerable dust emission; if any dust emission is created then it does not tend to travel beyond 200 – 500 meters before settling to the ground. Gypsum is a safe resource and does not contain any hazardous substances; hence gypsum is a non-toxic and non-eco-toxic mineral. The American and European gypsum industries represent hundreds of gypsum mining quarries and hundreds of gypsum boards plants. In America, gypsum is mined in about 19 states. The states producing the most gypsum are Oklahoma, Iowa, Nevada, Texas, and California. Major gypsum mining countries are, United States, U.K., Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Iran, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Thailand, Turkey are other significant producers of gypsum. In all, more than 90 countries produce gypsum”, said Alawi Zawawi.

“The setting-up of JV operations are targeted to commence immediately and the Gypsum Board commercial production by the last quarter of 2013”, according to Ramachandran.