Muscat: Omani gypsum exports surpassed 1 million metric tons (MT) per month for the first time last month, reinforcing the Sultanate’s dominant position as the world’s biggest exporter of the industrial mineral.
Exports from the Port of Salalah, the principal outlet for exports of locally mined gypsum, surged to 1.14 million MT in July. The corresponding figure for July 2019 was 885,000 MT, representing an increase of 28 per cent over the year.
“This is the first time in the history of Oman’s increasingly important mining sector that gypsum exports have soared above 1 million MT per month,” said Ramachandran, CEO – Zawawi Minerals LLC, a leading producer and exporter of Omani gypsum. “This milestone, coming despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, bodes well for an exponential increase in Omani gypsum production and exports in the face of rising global demand growth and declining supplies from traditional exporting countries.”
An estimated 5 million MT of gypsum were exported during the first seven months of 2020 (January – July), notwithstanding supply disruptions attributable to lockdown measures imposed during the pandemic. In contrast, gypsum exports during the same period of 2019 totalled 5.2 million.
The Sultanate is currently the world’s biggest exporter of gypsum – a position it has held for the third consecutive year. The country exported an approximately 9.01 million tons of the commodity last year, primarily to the ASEAN countries, Japan, India, Bangladesh and South/East African countries. Gypsum is a key raw material in cement production as well as gypsum plasterboard.
With market leaders, notably Thailand, restricting exports to ensure adequate supplies for its own domestic industry, Oman is well-positioned to become the dominant supplier of gypsum to markets in Asia, as well as South and East Africa, according to Ramachandran.