StatWatch: Stone Imports, June 2009

Dimensional-stone imports remain in the doldrums, lagging far behind last year’s totals. The road to recovery may still be a few intersections away.

The following is taken from data collected by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission. All figures give are for June 2009 (change from June 2008 amounts in parentheses). “Worked” stone is material that’s been shorn from boulders and blocks, and then cut in standard dimensional measures (such as slabs and tiles) and polished.

Worked Granite Volume
Total: 114,099 metric tons (-33.42%)
Sector leader: Spain @ 36,074 metric tons (2,210.95%)
Backfill: Wow! Maybe there’s resurgence here, especially with a massive upturn in Spanish shipments to offset some poor summertime number from others, including China’s 62.84% drop from last June. Then again ….

Worked Granite Value
Total: $65.7 million (-37.29%)
Sector leader: Brazil @ $22.8 million (-34.79%)
Backfill: …the numbers don’t add up, as Spain’s supposed bonanza in tonnage is way out of sorts with the $1.1 million in value (25% off last June’s pace, by the way) recorded at U.S. ports-of-entry. Either there are some misreported numbers, or Spanish slab granite is going for a less-than-roadbed-pebbles $31 per metric ton. We’ll bet on the former.

Worked Marble Value
Total: $16.9 million (-35.35%)
Sector leader: Italy @ $7.4 million (-41.19%)
Backfill: Italy continues to improve from its bottom-scraping February total of $4.9 million, but it’s still far behind last year’s figures. China’s $3.5 million in June again showed the smallest decline (14%) from last year.

Worked Marble Volume
Total: 14,619 metric tons (-28.64%)
Sector leader: China @ 4,774 metric tons (-11.18%)
Backfill: Italy easily wins the race in value, but China is slugging it out, ton-by-ton, to be the leader in landing slabs and tiles on U.S. docks. Mid-year metric-ton totals show China (23,615) pulling away from Italia (21,564).

Travertine Value
Total: $21.7 million (-37.25%)
Sector leader: Turkey @ $13.6 million (-36.77%)
Backfill: China offered a bright spot with a small 4.9% gain from last June, but with less than $1 million of actual travertine. The United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) small toehold in the market last year is giving way, with the $90,367 in travertine value showing a 61.64% decline from last year.

Travertine Volume
Total: 35,782 metric tons (-57.11%)
Sector leader: Turkey @ 25,481 metric tons (-62.26%)
Backfill: Turkey’s drastic drop in tonnage from 2008 levels is the main reason for the halving of travertine imports; Peru picked up its business by 17.84% from last June, but shipped only $2,015 tons. The UAE’s 163 metric tons registered a collapse of 94.26% from June 2008.

Other Calcereous Value
Total: $9.6 million (-45.10%)
Sector leader: Italy @ $1.7 million (-41.54%)
Backfill: The wild variances of the past 18 months seem to be flattening out; 2009 month-to-month declines are consistent, and Italy’s back in the top position. Lebanon’s mysterious big boom appears to be over; the $319,396 shipped to the United States this June shows a drop in value of 82.69% from the previous year.

Slate Value
Total: $5.0 million (-38.21%)
Sector leader: India @ $2.27 million (-25.86%)
Backfill: India turned up on top this month, beating China by close to $200,000 in import value. The difference between the two is larger than all of Canada’s $130,122 in slate shipped across the border, but good things come in smaller totals; that’s a 25.88% increase from June 2008 for our Neighbor to the North.

Emerson Schwartzkopf

You can read up-to-the-minute news on the dimensional-stone trade and search the archives at Stone Business Online, where you can also find this blog at the Main Menu under the clever title of “Editor’s Blog.”

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