StatWatch: Stone Imports, April 2010

A mainly positive report for the latest month available, especially with granite and marble. Travertine is a bit moribund, while slate and other calcareous still work out recovery strategies.

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 April 2010 (change from April 2009 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 Value
Total: $77.7 million (23.9%)
Sector leader: Brazil @ $30.6 million (69.0%)
Backfill: Granite continues its recovery from the first part of 2009 – one of the worst swoons ever. India shows a nice 37% gain from April 2009; China takes a small stumble down 11.7%, but its $16.2 million easily gives it second place in value among importers..

Worked Granite Volume
Total: 153,235 metric tons (48.25%)
Sector leader: Italy @ 41,833 metric tons (801.2%)
Backfill: Here’s where the news is either way too good to be relevant, or there’s a month’s aberration. Italy hasn’t seen total volumes like that since June 2008, and that month didn’t fit in with the rest of the year. Brazil slowed its flow to the United States, with its 37,916 metric tons showing a 17.4% drop from April 2009.

Worked Marble Value
Total: $15.5 million (4.7%)
Sector leader: Italy @ $6.6 million (2.4%)
Backfill: Italy continues to top the value charts as far as slab/tile marble, with China a distant second at $3.5 million. There’s plenty of reshuffling down the pack; Spain’s $1.7 million is more than double April 2009’s total, while Greece’s $474,726 is a 54.1% tumble.

Worked Marble Volume
Total: 113.964 metric tons (5.4%)
Sector leader: China @ 4,333 metric tons (10.7%)
Backfill: China remains the tonnage leader in worked marble, albeit in a somewhat sluggish month compared to earlier this year. Spain’s 2,044 metric tons is a peppy 113.4% ahead of April 2009; Greece took a 25.9% hit at 306 metric tons.

Travertine Value
Total: $19.2 million (-3.4%)
Sector leader: Turkey @ $12.2 million (no change)
Backfill: OK, Turkey’s totals didn’t match to the penny; this April’s tally is $2,000 less than the same month last year, but for trendwatchers it’s a tie. Major declines came with Italy (-19.5%) and China (-49.9%). Mideast exporters continue a yo-yo act from April 2009; the United Arab Emirates moved up 28.7%, while Israel sank by 87.8%.

Travertine Volume
Total: 40,398 metric tons (0.8%)
Sector leader: Turkey @ 32,786 metric tons (13.8%)
Backfill: Turkey picks up the slack in tonnage; it accounted for 4/5ths of all travertine coming through U.S. ports-of-entry in April 2010. Mexico sent 5,178 metric tons across the border, up 17.2% from April 2009. China’s 400 metric tons, meanwhile, exhibits a painful 84.8% plunge. 

Other Calcareous Value
Total: $7.8 million (-19.0%)
Sector leader: Italy @ $1.3 million (27.9%)
Backfill: Don’t flay Italy for the stone’s poor showing this April, as it shows continued improvement in 2010. China, France and Spain combine to make up $1.6 million of the $1.8 million decline in total other calcareous imports from April 2009.

Slate Value
Total: $4.3 million (-20.3%)
Sector leader: India @ $2.1 million (1.9%)
Backfill: Slate’s becoming less of a two-horse race as India pulls away, posting a small-but-something 1.9% gain from April 2009. China’s $1.5 million is a 37.6% drop from the previous April. Third-place Brazil dropped by 16.6%; its total slate value of $319,166 for the month shows the huge gap between the top two exporters and everyone else.

Emerson Schwartzkopf

You can read up-to-the-minute news on the dimensional-stone trade and search the archives at Stone Business Online.

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