Global Gypsum turns its attention to the gypsum markets of selected Middle Eastern
countries, including Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine,
Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, UAE and Yemen.
The oil-rich island nation of Bahrain is not a producer of natural gypsum or gypsum wallboard. Significant suppliers of wallboard are Saint-Gobain Gyproc, Shaheen Group, USG Boral and Knauf, which import wallboard into the country from the island’s Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) neighbours, mainly Oman, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Iran has the fifth-largest reserves of gypsum in the world, which are predominantly located in the Hormozgan, Semnan and South Khorasan Provinces. Semnan Province is the leading gypsum-producing Province in Iran, with 50 active gypsum mines that account for 80% of domestic production and around 6% of global production. The vast bulk of this ends up as traditional wall plaster or in cement production, with very little used for gypsum wallboard. Nikzad Oraee of Khorasan Gypsum estimates that there are 429 gypsum plaster plants in the country.Despite its high gypsum output, Iran has just three gypsum wallboard plants, highlighting that this is a building material in the early stages of adoption in the country. The oldest of the three plants is operated by Sadaf Gypsum at Herang, Bastak, Hormozgan (3Mm2/yr). Sadaf Gypsum has made gypsum prod-ucts for over 50 years.Knauf Iran operates the largest of the three plants (39Mm2/yr), close to the capital Tehran. The plant has been under its ownership since 1995, following a series of owners after the Islamic Revolution of 1979.
The third plant is Asia Malybden, which is located at Yazd (4Mm2/yr).
In recent years Iraq has mined gypsum for local consump-tion. Its Ministry of Industry and Minerals (MIM) estimates gypsum reserves of 130Mt. Most domestic gypsum is used in cement production and to make plaster. The country has no gypsum wallboard capac-ity at present.
Israel has moderate reserves of natural gypsum, extracting 84,000t in 2014, the most recent year for which the USGS supplies infor-mation. This represented a 201% increase compared to gypsum ex-tracted in 2013 (27,000t), although it was down compared to the 99,730t mined in 2010.Israel has two wallboard plants: Orbond Gypsum, part of Ger-many’s Knauf (24Mm2/yr) and; Tambour Ltd (15Mm2/yr). Orbond Gypsum was established in 1991 and the Tambour plant has been in operation since 2008.
Jordan produced 0.9Mt of crude gypsum in 2014, the most recent year for which the USGS has data.The most signficant areas with gyp-sum deposits are to the west of the country alongside the Dead Sea.
While Jordan currently has no wallboard plants, in 2017 the Jordan Investment Commission published research into the pos-sibility of establishing a gypsum / wallboard factory in the country.
To date there have been no com-mercial announcements regarding such a project.
Kuwait mines some natural gyp-sum. It has three wallboard plants, each operated by a local player. The largest is National Gypsum Com-pany’s 4Mm2/yr plant at Shuaiba. Kuwait Gypsum Manufacturing operates a 3Mm2/yr plant, also in Shuaiba. The confusingly-named Italy Gypsum also operates a 3Mm2/yr plant, which is located in Safat.
Lebanon mines in the region of 0.1Mt/yr of crude gypsum accord-ing to the USGS. It has no gypsum wallboard plants.
Oman is blessed with significant natural gypsum re-serves, with the Public Authority for Mining (PAM) estimating reserves of around 1Bnt. These are con-centrated in the southern part of the country, with some in the north. However, the Sultanate has only just begun to fully exploit the reserves in recent years. Extraction of gypsum, especially for export, have grown sig-nificantly since the establishment of USG-Zawawi Minerals in 2009. It began to extract natural gypsum from near Salalah in 2014. Oman overtook Thailand as the world’s pre-eminent exporter of natural gypsum at some point in 2017. In that year it exported 7.4Mt. Hilal bin Mohammed al-Busaidi, CEO of PAM, predicts that Oman’s gypsum exports will exceed 10Mt in 2018, more than double the 4.6Mt that the country ex-ported in 2016. The principal export markets for the product are India, Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, Vietnam and Bangladesh. In 2017 USG Boral Zawawi Director Ramachan-dran reported in these pages that Oman could export as much as 250Mt of gypsum in the 14 year period from 2016 to 2030, dwarfing contributions from other nations. Oman has two gypsum wallboard plants. These are operated by locally-based Global Gypsum Com-pany (20Mm2/yr) and USG Boral Zawawi Drywall (8Mm2/yr), a joint venture between USG Boral and local firm Zawawi Minerals. In January 2017 it was reported that the Gulf Mining Group was considering building a gypsum wallboard plant in Salalah. The project was part of a portfolio of planned investments scheduled for 2017 and 2018 announced by the company, according to Al-Bawaba News. No further updates have been forthcoming regarding the progress of this project.
The wealthiest country on earth according to GDP/capita data (2016), Qatar mined a moderate 0.2Mt of crude gyp-sum in 2014, the most recent year for which the USGS provides data. In that year, Qatari Saudi Company for Gypsum, a joint-venture between Qatar Industrial Manufacturing Company (33.375%), Qatar National Cement (33.250%) and National Gypsum Company (Saudi Arabia) (33.375%) was the largest producer, with a capacity to mine 135,000t from its mine in the Salwa Industrial Area. Most of the crude gypsum was used for cement production by the two cement sector joint-venture partners. Qatar currently has no gypsum wallboard manufacturing facilities.
Saudi Arabia has significant gypsum reserves. It has the second-largest gypsum wall-board sector in the Middle East after Turkey, with 146Mm2/yr of capacity across nine plants. These are run by eight different producers, as shown in Table 2
War-torn Syria mined 0.19Mt of crude gypsum in 2014, the last year for which the USGS presents information. It has one gypsum wallboard facility (20Mm2/yr), operated by Knauf under its Danogips Middle East unit.
Turkey is blessed with significant mineral wealth. It has proven gypsum reserves of nearly 2Bnt and a probable further 1.6Bnt. It mined 9Mt of crude gypsum in 2017, the same amount as in 2016. Turkey exported 0.74Mt of gypsum, anhydrite and plaster in 2017. This was 29.8% more than in 2016. The largest importers of Turkish gypsum were Nigeria (222,000t), Russia (73,000t) and Georgia (71,000t). Turkey has the most developed gypsum wall-board sector of any country in this review. It has 220Mm2/yr of capacity across 13 plants that are oper-ated by a range of local and multinational players, A recent report by authors from the Ministry of Energy and Natu-ral Resources states that Turkey produced 4.9Mt of gypsum plaster in 2016. It produced 1.15Mt of gypsum wallboard, of which 0.3Mt was exported. This indicates do-mestic consumption of 0.85Mt of wallboard. Taking a board weight of 8.5kg/m2, this indicates that Turkey consumed ~100Mm2/yr of wallboard in 2016 and exported a further ~35Mm2/yr. This indicates a capacity utilisation rate of 61% across the sector.
The UAE mined 0.7Mt of crude gypsum in 2014, the last year for which the USGS provides information. This is predominantly used for cement production. The UAE has the third-largest gypsum wall-board capacity of the countries in this review, with 93.3Mm2/yr of capacity split between four wallboard plants that are run by a mixture of local and multi-national companies. As well as Saint-Gobain Gyproc (29Mm2/yr) and Knauf (30Mm2/yr) there are two local players in the form of Gypsemna (34Mm2/yr) and GulfWalling (0.3Mm2/yr). A fifth wallboard plant, in Sharjah, was an-nounced by Mustafa Furnishing Industries in September 2014. The company stated that the plant would be under construction by the close of 2015 but it does not appear to have been built to date.
The Republic of Yemen is not a producer of crude gypsum and does not have any wall-board plants. Penetration of wallboard use is very low in the country, the poorest on the Arabian Peninsula.