Boral/Lafarge Chinese Plasterboard Joint Venture to Double Capacity

Boral announced today that its plasterboard joint venture with Lafarge, Lafarge Boral Gypsum Asia (LBGA), intends to double its plasterboard manufacturing capacity in China.

Two new plants will be constructed, one in Shanghai and the other in Chongqing. The total investment is approximately US $30 million and will increase capacity from around 35 million square metres of plasterboard per annum to more than 70 million square metres.

Government approvals have been received and site works have already commenced. The Chongqing plant is expected to be operational in the third quarter of CY2005 and the Shanghai plant in the first quarter of CY2006. When completed, the new plants will complement LBGA's existing manufacturing facilities in both cities.

Ross Batstone, Executive General Manager of Boral's Plasterboard division, said: "Since the establishment of our Asian Plasterboard joint venture in mid-2000, we have been building a platform to grow in China. We consolidated our Shanghai position early on to create a viable, high-quality plasterboard operation and established a smaller, cost-effective position in Chongqing in 2002. We are now well placed to grow around our leading positions in Shanghai and Chongqing and by using existing infrastructure we will contain the level of capital investment.

"The US$30 million growth investment will allow LBGA in China to maintain its leading position in the fast growing East China market and to significantly increase participation in the fast developing Central China markets," added Mr Batstone.

Mr Rod Pearse, CEO and Managing Director of Boral Limited, said: "This expansion in China is in line with Boral's Strategic Intent, which is to be a value(s) and market driven, focused building and construction materials company operating in Australia and increasingly offshore.

"The investment in Shanghai and Chongqing builds on our strong Asian plasterboard position and will make it possible for LBGA to supply the anticipated ongoing market growth in China, which has been sustained at more than 15% per annum over the past five years," concluded Mr Pearse.

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