NEW DELHI May 24 French cement maker Lafarge LAFP.PA said on Thursday its joint venture in India would invest 1 billion rupees ($24.6 million) in a plant to make gypsum boards used in construction as a substitute for plywood. "We are not betting on today's market. What we are betting on is the growth," Isidoro Miranda, executive vice president of Lafarge, said in an interview in New Delhi.
He said the plant in the north-western state of Rajasthan would start production in the first quarter of 2008, and the venture may open another unit by 2010 if the gypsum board market grew 15 percent annually as expected.
Lafarge Boral Gypsum Asia is an equal joint venture between Lafarge, the world's largest cement maker, and Australian construction materials group Boral Ltd. (BLD.AX).
The new plant will have a capacity to produce 10 million square metres of gypsum boards, which are now preferred to plywood because of their fire and moisture resistant ability, said Miranda, who is also the chief executive of Lafarge's gypsum division.
Lafarge, which had imported 3 million square metre of gypsum board in 2006/07, struck a contract on Thursday JW Marriott's upcoming venture in the western city of Pune.
"We will be supplying them 200,000 square metres of gypsum board worth about half a million dollars," Olivier Chaudet, Lafarge Boral Gypsum's country manager, said.
((Reporting by Rakesh Sharma, editing by Ranjit Gangadharan; Reuters Messaging: email@example.com; +91 11 4178 1021)) Keywords: LAFARGE INDIA/
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