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    Russian gypsum germination

    2003

    Germany's Knauf has played a defining role in the development of Russia's gypsum industry.

    THE CIS CONTAINS around 180 deposits of gypsum, anhydrite and gypsum-containing rocks and has total reserves of around 4,300m. tonnes. Around 74% of reserves are found in Russia, 10% in Ukraine and 5% in Kazakhstan.
     
    Russia also contains the region's largest gypsum deposits, such as the Novomoskovsk deposit in Tula oblast, which has reserves of some 850m. tonnes. In Astrakhan oblast, gypsum is mined at the Baskunchak deposit, which has reserves of around 185m. tonnes. Ukraine's largest exploited gypsum deposit is in Artemovsky (Donetsk oblast) with reserves of 120m. tonnes.
     
    Other large Russian deposits are in Pletnevsky (Kaluga oblast), Skuratovsky (Tula oblast), and Pavlovsky (Nizhegorodsky oblast).
     
    In spite of its large reserves, the Russian gypsum resource base has two serious disadvantages. Firstly, reserves are distributed irregularly; more than 80% are in the European part of Russia. Asian Russian gypsum deposits are small in size and located far from transport lines and consumers.
     
    Secondly, most of Russia's gypsum reserves are low-grade resources, with an average gypsum content that is often below the minimum commercial grade (<70%). The proportion of high grade gypsum deposits (>90% gypsum) is low.
     
    Gypsum is mined in all the CIS countries. The dynamics of production are shown in Figure 1. Production dipped to a minimum level in 1996-1997 after the break-up of the USSR, and subsequently grew gradually until 2002.
     
     
    In the mid-1990s, CIS gypsum producers decreased their levels of mining and production considerably, in line a regional industrial depression. Recently, gypsum output has begun to grow. For instance, Russian gypsum production increased to 1.4m. tonnes in 2002, much higher than the 1993 level. Ukrainian gypsum production has also grown in recent years, but did not reach the levels of the early 1990s. Production totalled 207,000 tonnes gypsum in 2002, which was less than half of the 1993 level (Next month's Continental Drift will include an in-depth review of the Ukrainian gypsum industry).
     
    The other CIS countries account for around 20% of total gypsum production. Production is growing in Moldova, Kazakhstan and Belarus, but other CIS countries are not yet showing stable growth.
     
    Production round-up
     
    The leading producers of gypsum products in Russia are enterprises owned by German company Knauf. Knauf has operated in Russia since 1993, and has invested in the development of several Russian gypsum enterprises.
     
    At present, Knauf owns 7 of the 18 largest gypsum producers in Russia. These seven enterprises together yield around 70% of the country's gypsum output (see Figure 2).
    Knauf has also expanded its activity in other CIS countries. The company has invested in gypsum mining and processing enterprises in Ukraine, Moldova and Kazakhstan, and also plans to invest in Belarus.
     
    Knauf's principal Russian enterprises are outlined below. Among the other large companies mining and producing gypsum in Russia are the Peshelansky gypsum plant Dekor-1 (Nizhegorodsky oblast), Nukutsky gypsum quarry (Irkutsk oblast), Dubinovsky gypsum quarry (Orenburg oblast), Ergach (Perm oblast), Ust'-Dzhegutinsky gypsum combine (Karachaevo-Cherkessia), Kamsko-Ust'unsky gypsum mine (Tatarstan), and Gipsopolimer (Perm).
     
     
    Gypsum-Knauf
     
    JSC JV Gypsum-Knauf, a Russian-German joint venture founded in 1996 and based in Novomoskovsk, Tula oblast, exploits the Novomoskovsk gypsum deposit by underground mining. The average gypsum content of the ore is 89%. The enterprise has a design extraction capacity of 2.5m. tpa, but actual output is around 1m. tpa. Increasing the mine output requires further reconstruction of the shafts.
     
    Gypsum-Knauf also manufactures gypsum products.
     
    Since formation of the j-v, the enterprise has established a facility for the production of gypsum plates with a design capacity of 260,000m2 per year and has reconstructed a production line for gypsum wallboard, increasing capacity to 350,000 m2 per year. All the products meet European standards. A new plant for the production of fire-proof wallboard with design capacity of 7.2m.m2 per year has also been built. At present, the enterprise produces around 15% of Russia's total output of gypsum wallboard.
     
    Kubansky Gypsum-Knauf
     
    JSC JV Kubansky Gypsum-Knauf, based in Psebai, Krasnodar krai, exploits the Shedoksky gypsum deposit, which has an average gypsum content of 86.5%. The company produces gypsum rock, milled crude gypsum and gypsum plaster/stucco. Design capacity of the combine is 1.1m. tpa of gypsum rock, whereas actual output is around 0.9m. tpa.
     
    The company supplies part of its gypsum rock output to Russian cement producers. In recent years, the company has started to produce gypsum wallboard (standard, fire-proof and water resistant varieties) of various thicknesses. Kubansky Gypsum-Knauf is currently Russia's leading producer of gypsum wallboard, accounting for around 36% of production.
     
    Tigi-Knauf
     
    JSC JV Tigi-Knauf was founded as a Russian-German j-v in 1994, on the basis of an older enterprise founded in the late 1950s, and later reorganised as a producer of heat and sound insulating gypsum products. In 1969, the company pioneered the production of gypsum wallboard in Russia.
     
    In 1997, the j-v commissioned a plant for the production of dry building mixtures and the following year doubled its capacity for calcined gypsum, allowing it to stop purchasing gypsum binder from external sources.
     
    The company, based in Krasnogorsk, Moscow oblast, is now the leading producer of dry building mixtures, and is steadily increasing its production volume. At present, Tigi-Knauf supplies 90% of the gypsum-based dry building mixtures produced in Russia. The company also produces around 30% of Russia's wallboard, and is the second largest producer after Kubansky Gypsum-Knauf.
     
    Mineral Knauf
     
    Astrakhan oblast-based Private JSC Mineral Knauf exploits the Baskunchak deposit, which contains 90-99% gypsum in the mined rock. The company produces gypsum for binders and gypsum plaster/stucco. Design capacity is 900,000 tpa of ore, but actual output is closer to 600-700,000 tpa. The company's principal domestic customers are cement producers.
     
    Consumption
    Almost all of the gypsum produced in Russia is consumed by the domestic market. Consumption has steadily increased and between 1998 and 2002, has more than doubled (see Figure 3).
     
     
    InfoMine calculations show that around 70% of Russian gypsum is consumed in the production of gypsum wallboard, blocks and plates, a market which has grown rapidly over the past few years (see Figure 4). The largest Russian producers of these products are: Kubansky Gypsum-Knauf (36% of total production), Tigi-Knauf (30%), Gypsum Knauf (15%), UralGypsum-Knauf (6%), and Gipsopolimer (5%).
     
     
    The second biggest end use for gypsum in Russia is the production of dry building mixtures, a market that has also grown actively in recent years. For instance, according to Goskomstat data, production increased more than four-fold between 1999 and 2001. The bulk of production, around 90%, is by Tigi-Knauf.
     
    Around 8% of Russian gypsum is used directly by construction companies, and 5% in the production of ceramics. Among other smaller end-uses are medicine, fertiliser, back-filling after mining, and as a flux for metallurgy.
     
    The marked development of gypsum production in Russia over the past few years has been largely connected to Knauf's activities. Since 1999, gypsum production has increased at at around 15% per year, a rate of growth that is likely to continue in the near future. Russia will undoubtedly remain the greatest gypsum producer in the CIS for many years.

     

    Dr. Vladimir Troitsky and Olga Safonova
    "Industrial Mining", December 2003, p.58-59
     

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