QUANTUM LEAP: The Sultanate is set to become a significant gypsum supplier to the Asian market –
Conrad Prabhu –
MUSCAT, JULY 1 –
Gypsum exports from the Sultanate surged to 3.30 million metric tonnes (MMT) in the first five months of this year, up from 2.55 MMT for the corresponding period of 2016 — registering a solid 30 per cent increase that effectively puts Oman on pace to emerge as the world’s top exporter of natural gypsum within the next few years, according to a key industry executive.
Ramachandran, Director of Zawawi Gypsum LLC, a leading producer and exporter of gypsum, said shipments from the Port of Salalah — the principal gateway for all Omani gypsum exports — rose sharply in April-May as producers scrambled to take advantage of a growing deficit in supply from Asian export markets. [Zawawi Gypsum LLC is a joint venture between Zawawi Minerals LLC, USG Corporation (USA) and Boral Ltd (Australia)].
Shipments from Thailand — long a dominant exporter of gypsum to Asia — declined 17 per cent during the first five months of this year in trend with slumping domestic production (declining from 2.66 MMT in 2016 to 2.27 MMT in 2017), coupled with an effort by Thailand’s Department of Primary Industries and Mines (DPIM) to restrict exports in order to secure supplies for the nation’s flourishing gypsum-based industries.
Gypsum is a key raw material in cement production, with uptake — albeit in modest volumes by comparison — also driven by gypsum board manufacturers. Almost all of Oman’s gypsum exports are shipped to markets across India where cement production is growing exponentially to keep pace with demand growth fuelled in large part by investments in infrastructure and housing.
Large volumes are also being shipped to Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and South/East Africa, with the Sultanate well-positioned to meet gypsum demand growth in these markets. With demand for gypsum increasing from Asian countries, Oman is filling the production gap created by Thai supply shortages and increasing demand, according to in-house research conducted by Zawawi Minerals LLC.
Oman, given its relative geographical proximity to these markets and the high quality of its gypsum output, enjoys a competitive advantage in meeting demand from Asia.
Many Asian gypsum importing nations have been facing supply and pricing challenges, which are expected to worsen in the coming years. Oman, with its vast gypsum resources and excellent logistics infrastructure,
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