Mission Viejo, Calif. (December 21, 2000) - On Dec. 15, 2000, James Hardie Gypsum completed the purchase of the Western Gypsum assets, a gypsum mining operation in Utah. The acquisition was announced in April 2000, with an extended settlement period.

The acquisition provides James Hardie Gypsum with one of North America's largest and most strategic reserves of low-cost, high-quality gypsum rock; secures a lower cost and higher quality source of gypsum rock for the company's Las Vegas wallboard plant; permits the eventual sale of the existing valuable Las Vegas mine site; and enables James Hardie Gypsum to significantly expand its participation in the US markets for high value plaster products, agricultural gypsum and gypsum filler

James Hardie Gypsum President Robert F. Rugg said, "This purchase will enable us to expand our product range and market position; enter new, high-value market segments; reduce costs; and increase our return on assets."

The Western Gypsum mine and mining rights areas cover 40,000 acres near the borders of Utah, Arizona and Nevada. The business has gypsum reserves and mining rights for more than 3.5 billion tons of gypsum.

"Western's low cost gypsum rock will significantly expand the life of the gypsum reserves available to our Las Vegas plant, and further strengthen our low cost, competitive position in the southwest market," Rugg said.

Headquartered in Mission Viejo, Calif., James Hardie Gypsum is the fourth largest manufacturer of gypsum wallboard in the United States.