LAHORE - The price of gypsum has increased by about Rs150 per ton for local consumers after the opening of Wagha border, as mine contactors are exporting gypsum in mass quantity without any value addition. Industry sources said that if exports of gypsum continued unchecked, the local cement manufacturers, who are the major users of this commodity, will suffer the most due to its constant hike in rates, impacting the prices of cement too. On the other hand, industry experts said that owing to export in bulk quantity of gypsum its rate in India has come down from $35 per ton to $24 per ton because of Indian importers monopoly. While the Pakistani exporters have enough amounts, having no other option except to send it out to India. And Indian importers say they will buy the product at not more than this rate.Industry experts said that Indian Punjab demand of cement is around 5 to 6 million tons while only 0.5 million tons cement is being exported to India. They said that rest of requirement is fulfilled by importing of gypsum from Pakistan. They said that as Pakistani cement is of superior quality hence 20 per cent of gypsum can be included in it and resold it in Indian market.They said that India also imports gypsum from Pakistan for soil fertility purpose. They said that before the opening of Wagha, only 2000 to 3000 ton of gypsum was traded, which have now increased to 25000 to 30,000 tons monthly. They said that a cement plant is installed worth Rs. 30 to Rs. 35b in the period of five years keeping in view of the limestone reserves of more than 200 years. So availability of gypsum for this long period should also be ensured. They said that gypsum is exported at up to $26 per ton while after value addition it can be traded more than $50 per ton.An official of the Punjab Mines & Minerals Department, on the condition that his name not to be mentioned, questioned the prudence of allowing raw gypsum exports. “We are monitoring export of gypsum and trying to approach the cement industry, which is the biggest user of this mine. In several meetings with the representatives of the cement industry we have raised the issue of unbridled the gypsum export to India through Wahga border route, asking them cement sector to check it,” the official said. He said that most of gypsum export is from Khushab and Chakwal, as these areas are near to Wagha border and export from this area is feasible, other areas are remote. He said the restriction on gypsum export comes in the jurisdiction of federal government and Punjab Mines & Minerals Department can do nothing in this regard. However, he suggested the government that export of gypsum should be linked with cement and a formula can be adopted that if two trucks of gypsum are sent to India, at least one truck of cement will have to be purchased by the Indian importers, he added. He stressed the need for exporting cement instead of gypsum. Presently, cement export to India is negligible while the gypsum dominates all exporting commodities. He also deplored the performance of the Punjab Mines & Minerals Department which is unable to conduct a proper and detailed survey of gypsum availability in Punjab. He said that in 1994 a French company conducted survey and guessed that 120 million tons gypsum is available in Punjab, but this is a rough estimate. However, he was hopeful of starting a new survey of gypsum availability from next financial year.As per the data of 2010-11, around 683,967 tons gypsum is being produced all over the country while in Punjab its production is 491,773 tons, including Khushab 80,139 tons, Jhelum 24,295 tons, Chakwal 55,243 tons, DG Khan 140,556 tons and Mianwali 190,940 tons. Officials said that cement sector’s requirement for its 11 factories in Punjab is 3,590 tons of gypsum daily while gypsum export is 109,504 bags of 50kg annually. He said that good quality gypsum is produced from DG Khan.