CARRARA, Italy – An upcoming study of worldwide dimensional stone shows a tonnage drop by more than 10 percent from 2007 to 2009.

The Stone Sector 2009 report from Internazionale Marmi e Macchine (IMM) Carrara, to be presented May 20 at the CarraraMarmotec trade event, also notes an overall reduction in foreign trade of stone, and U.S. import levels dropping to 2005 levels.
The study indicates that the declared international exports of stone materials, including raw and processed materials counted as raw, decreased from 48.6 million metric tons in 2007 to 43.1 million metric tons in 2009, a drop of more than 11 percent.. The decline from 2008 to 2009 came in at 9.8 percent.

The volume of processed materials taken as raw materials fell from 34.6 million metric tons in 2007 to 30.8 million metric tons in 2009.

Raw materials (marble and granite together) show an even higher decrease over the two years, from 14 million metric tons two years ago to 12.3 million metric tons in 2009.

The statistics analysis, conducted by IMM Carrara, combines processed materials with the raw materials so as to give a good approximation of the volume of materials extracted and involved in international trade.

The statistics also show that that the total dimensional stone extracted in the world now exceed 100 million tons annually, and presumes that more than half of materials extracted throughout the world are consumed on the domestic markets.

Study statistics note that marble and limestone have a more-stable market (although the volumes are smaller than for granite) due to their traditional role on the international markets, as well as the limited number of valuable deposits. Granite, on the other hand, entails different uses and markets and is a younger material, in terms of trade.

Worldwide, the study shows total granite exports at 28.7 million metric tons in 2009, sliding 12.1 percent from last year’s total. Last year’s total marble exports, meanwhile, amounted to 14.4 million metrics tons ... and a total fall-off of only 4.9 percent from 2008

The United States, according to the study, imported roughly the same amount of finished marble and granite in 2009 as it did in 2005; coming in at slightly more than 2 million metric tons, the total showed a drop of 32.3 percent from last year, 47.3 percent from 2007 and less than half of the import tonnage of 2006.

In terms of 2009 value, the study calculates U.S. processed granite imports at approximately $980 million, a figure not seen since 2003.

With marble, Turkey, China and Italy remained the major U.S. suppliers; all suffered a reduction in tonnage to the United States in 2009, but values increased.

China felt the economic downturn in its stone trade, with last year’s exports of processed granite materials to the rest of the world falling (in terms of quantity) by 5.7 percent, thus leading to the first negative figure in exports. South Korea and Japan, China’s main buyers, reduced their imports from China in 2009 by 6.4 percent and 10.3 percent respectively.

The United States, meanwhile, reduced its Chinese granite imports by a further 20.1 percent in 2009.

China increased its imports of raw marble for processing in 2009, mainly from Turkey, Egypt and Italy. However, it bought less last year from Iran and Spain.

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