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Aim is to diversify in mining sector

Gypsum is an important mineral for cement industry and prime mineral for plaster of Paris industry. It chairman and managing director SK Das spoke to HT.

india Updated: Jan 06, 2013 23:55 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times

FCI Aravali Gypsum and Minerals India Limited (FAGMIL) is a public sector undertaking under the ministry of chemicals and fertilisers. It is engaged in mining and exploration of mineral gypsum, which is an important mineral used as micronutrient for the soil and also for the reclamation of sodic land in India.

Gypsum is also an important mineral for cement industry and prime mineral for plaster of Paris industry. It chairman and managing director SK Das spoke to HT.

Can you elaborate on the long-term competitive strategy of FAGMIL?
Our company is engaged in mining of mineral gypsum. It is used in the noble cause of sustainable development through reclamation of alkaline land in Uttar Pradesh.

It is also supplying mineral gypsum to cement industries across the different parts of India. Around 96% mineral gypsum is available in only Rajasthan. It does not face any competitive threats.

However, the company has quest for diversification in the fields of other minerals like rock phosphate, potash and lime stone. It is facing some problems due to the minerals policy of state government which is expected to be sorted out.

What about the process of land reclamation?
Natural gypsum contains 13% to 18% sulphur. This is used as a source of sulphur to the soil. The mineral gypsum neutralised alkaline soil land improve the soil permanently.

It also provides sulphur and calcium to give the catalyst support for maximum fertiliser utilisation. The chief characteristic of sodic soils from the agricultural point is that they contain sufficient exchangeable sodium to adversely affect the growth of most crop plants.

Excess exchangeable sodium has an adverse effect on the physical and nutritional properties of the soil, with consequent reduction in crop growth, significantly or entirely. The health of the alkaline soil is improved in a systematic manner.

First the field is ploughed and gypsum is spread over the surface of land and it is again ploughed. Then it is filled with water and left as it is for few days to dry. After eight days, water is drained through small drains.

In such situation, gypsum reacts with soil and causes the salt to come over the surface of the land. When it dries, land hardens and releases the salt from its inner parts to upper level of land. These salts are collected and disposed of.

Can gypsum be used as fertiliser through direct application?
Yes, gypsum can also be used as soil nutrient and to make alkaline land fertile. Now-a-days much attention is being given on increasing the fertility of the soil. Due to use of gypsum as soil conditioner, it has great demand in Punjab, Haryana and UP.

Gypsum is very good and low-cost fertiliser for direct application for potato, sugarcane, oil seeds, pulses etc. and Fagmil has become a leading source of supply to feed this important field.

What would be the capital expenditure in coming years?
The government has already approved Rs. 82 crore for the Single Super Phosphate (SSP) project with the mining lease of lime stone and dolomite, the company will make substantial investment in the mining sector.

We are planning to make an investment of Rs. 50 to Rs. 60 crore in the next two to three years in our diversification programme. The turnover, which is presently Rs. 62 crore, may go up to Rs. 300 to Rs. 350 crore in the next three years.

What is the importance of gypsum for other industries?
Cement industry is a major consumer. About 4% to 6% gypsum is added for cement production. We are supplying mineral gypsum to various firms.

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