By Mr. Carlos Antônio Cavalcanti - Vice-President of ABIROCHAS
& Geologist Cid Chiodi Filho - Consultant of ABIROCHAS
ABIROCHAS - Brazilian Association of the Natural Stone Industry
Since the 1990s, Brazil underwent remarkable growth in production and exports of natural stones, with increase in activities throughout the production chain. In addition, main recent advances in quarrying and processing were due to the increase in exports.
Presently, Brazil is already included in the group of major producers and worldwide exporters, acting as an effective global player.
Brazilian production of natural stones totaled 10.5 million tons in 2013. The production covered a large variety of stones, including granites, marbles, block and flagstone quartzite, slate, soapstone, meta-conglomerates, serpentine, travertine, limestone and others types sold in the domestic and export markets. Quarry production serving the domestic market was estimated at 6.9 million tons, and 3.6 million tons was the estimate for exports.
Despite the world's US dollar devaluation and the European economic crisis, Brazilian exports of natural stones increased 23 and reached $1.3 billion in 2013, with sales to more than 100 countries on all the continents. Brazil is the third-largest worldwide exporter of slate (after Spain and China) and second in granite blocks (after India), as well as the largest general supplier of stones and of granite slabs to the United States.
The five main countries of destination for Brazilian stone exports in order of revenues are the United States, China, Italy, Canada and Mexico. The three main markets in South America are Venezuela, Colombia and Argentina.
Click map to enlargeThe main exporting states in Brazil, also in order of revenues, are Espírito Santo, Minas Gerais, São Paulo, Ceará and Bahia. Espírito Santo alone accounts for 40 of the Brazilian stone production and concentrates 70 of the installed benefiting capacity of blocks. The state of Minas Gerais is responsible for almost all of the production and export of slate, flagstone quartzite (São Tomé type) and soapstone.
The greater part of the so-called exotic granites comes from the states of Minas Gerais, Bahia and Ceará, concentrating in Bahia the production of the new varieties of massive quartzite exported by Brazil.
The main Brazilian ports used for exporting natural stones are Vitória, Rio de Janeiro, Sepetiba and Santos, with a minor role for the ports of Bahia, Ceará, Pernambuco, Paraná and others.
The Vitória port complex concentrates the greater part of granite blocks and slabs exports. Almost all slate and flagstone quartzite exports are made through the ports in the state of Rio de Janeiro.
Exports of slab processed on gang-saws, especially with polished finishing, totaled approximately 21 million equivalent m2 (2 cm thickness) in 2013. Considering that there was estimated demand of 59.6 million equivalent m2 of these Brazilian slabs for the domestic market, it is inferred that total processing of slabs on gang-saws reached 80.6 million m2 in 2013.
Through trends observed in the domestic and export markets, cutting demand is forecast at up to 89 million m2 in 2014, which would represent an increment of 10 over 2013. The Brazilian processing installed capacity is estimated today at 85 million m2/yr of cutting and polishing (granite, marble and other stones extracted in blocks) and at 50 million m2/yr of simple processed stones (slate, quartzite and gneissic flagstone, etc.). Processed semi-finished and finished stone exports, covering simple to special products, account for 77 of the revenue and 47 of Brazil's total exported volume.
Between domestic and export business, it is estimated that the Brazilian natural stone industry generated trade of $5.5 billion in 2013. The 10,000 companies making up the industrial production chain in Brazil are responsible for around 126,000 direct jobs and 360,000 indirect jobs. Out of the total companies in the industry, some 400 are exporters.
Recent surveys identified 18 production clusters of dimension stones in Brazil, distributed over 80 municipalities in 10 Brazilian states. The largest part of these production clusters is located in the southeastern region, due to the geographic proximity to the main consumer, processing and export regions.
In general terms, there are quarrying activities in around 400 municipalities, with 1,500 active mining operations and production of 1,200 commercial varieties of stone.
It can be observed that quarrying and processing activities of natural stones, like the rest of mining activities, are being transferred to developing countries of continental dimensions with abundant natural resources and favorable conditions for exporting. In the dimension stones segment, that's the case of Brazil, which is imposing on the traditional European players in the international market.
Brazil is recognized for its exceptional mineral diversity, including natural stones, with a highlight for siliceous materials (granite and similar stone, including quartzites). The production and export of these materials, in addition to slate and other less common stone, shows strong growth, which reflects the Brazilian capacity to transform mineral resources in mineral-industrial business.
In the medium and long term, it can be suggested that Brazilian granite, slate and quartzite will be the main stones in the international market in the 21st century. This is the directive for incrementing quarrying and processing of natural stones, paving the way for the installation of modern industrial centers and assuring the sales of Brazilian products in the domestic and export markets.
By seeking to establish the basis for increased competition for its “made in Brazil” products, ABIROCHAS is developing systematic fomentation programs supported by APEX Brazil - the Export and Investment Promotion Agency. The excellent results achieved by the APEX/ABIROCHAS Program has created the trade fundamentals necessary for the sale of finished products and services, guided by the new brand Brasil Original Stones.
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