A number of leading Omani gypsum mining firms have joined forces to launch a centralised trading platform aimed at securing better returns on exports of the commodity and thereby maximising the economic benefit to the Sultanate and the local industry from the exploitation of gypsum resources.
The initiative builds on efforts in the local gypsum mining industry currently concentrated in Dhofar Governorate, to encourage cooperation among producers and eschew any potential for undercutting that threatens the competitiveness of the overall sector.
Details about the new centralised agency for gypsum trading were revealed at the Oman Mining Expo yesterday. Scott Watson (pictured), Chief Executive Officer — Kunooz Oman Holding, said the formal registration last month of Salalah International Gypsum Company LLC (SIG) — the official name of the trading platform — marked the culmination of efforts spanning over a year to bring about this collaboration.
SIG is a consortium of four leading gypsum producers —Kunooz Gypsum, Global Mining, Dhofar Mining and Al Jood Natural Resources — and is 100 per cent owned by the four participating companies, he said. Its objective is to “protect” the Sultanate’s gypsum resources through enhanced cooperation in the global marketing and sale of Omani gypsum. A key goal of the newly established consortium, Watson stressed, is to sell gypsum “at or above the price regulated by the Public Authority for Mining (PAM)”.
The initiative is expected to help Oman’s burgeoning gypsum mining sector generate higher returns on exports especially at a time when the Sultanate is currently ranked the world’s largest exporter of gypsum.
Exports surged to nearly 9.4 million metric tonnes in 2018, up 25 per cent from 7.4 million metric tonnes a year earlier, with all of these volumes handled almost exclusively by the Port of Salalah — the principal gateway for shipments of the commodity to markets in Asia and the Far East.
The robust uptick in the export of the mineral — which is a key raw material in the production of cement as well as in the manufacture of gypsum board — bodes well for heightened investments in the exploration and mining of gypsum in Thamrait and other parts of Dhofar Governorate, where the mineral is found in abundance.
In December 2016, the Public Authority for Mining intervened to put the brakes on a significant downtrend in gypsum export prices, attributed to unhealthy undercutting by some players.
The Authority set a minimum Free-on-Board (FOB) price for raw gypsum export, which has since helped bolster earnings for exporters and the local economy.