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Markets: Stone from the Amazon

(March 2011) The „Atlas of natural stone in Brazil’s Amazon Region“ was presented at the Vitória Trade Fair in February – and it reads like an open invitation to investors. The publication evaluates the geological potential of the region, which encompasses 5.2 million km² and 8 provinces of Brazil’s north: 88 different types of granite, pegmatite and quartzite are listed – 65 of which are new! From classic to exotic or the so-called Super Exóticos, multi-coloured and wildly structured, all are included in the census.

But the atlas is not a mere enumeration of geological stone concentrations. It also undertakes to analyze the marketability of the various types: implementation in architecture and design as well as analysis of material and description of the situation in local storage facilities are also included in the publication.

And the authors analyse the journey of Amazon stone to their final markets. After all, the enormous territory comprising the provinces of Amapá, Amazonas, Mato Grosso, Pará, Rondônia, Roraima, Tocantins and parts of Maranhão – or 61% of Brazil’s surface – is largely undeveloped land. The region’s relative close proximity to the northern hemisphere is a logistic advantage. Europe and the American East Coast are easily accessible from Surinam’s Atlantic coast or the Guyanas; the Caribbean Isles, practically around the corner, provide an important purchaser for the Brazilian stone industry already.

Not to mention the pecuniary potential of contracts already signed with Peru, Ecuador or Chile. Shipping from the Pacific coast of these countries to Asia or the American West Coast would reduce the cost „by 30 $/t” according to a press release preceding publication.

The authors make a point of emphasizing the importance of environmental sustainability from the very first page: considering that the building boom in the Region’s urban centres, Serviço Geológico do Brasil (CPRM) is seeking local sources for building material, what luck that it stumbled upon storage facilities for natural stone. Kistemann and Chido consultants, already known for their pragmatic solutions, were solicited to draw up a detailed analysis, sponsored by the governmental program PAC.

Sustainability is the golden rule. So no wonder that keeping production local is the motto. The areas in question are not rain forest land.

„Atlas de Rochas Ornamentais da Amazônia Brasileira“ (Portuguese), Ivan S.C. Mello, Cid Chiodi Filho, Denize Kistemann Chiodi, ISBN 978-85-7499-123-8, Mail.

Exports up in 2010

Brazil’s stone exports were up by a healthy 32.47% by value and 33.90 % by mass or 959.19 million US $ and 2.2396 million t respectively according to the national trade organization Abirochas as published in issue 1/2011 of its magazine „Informe“ (Portuguese).

Thus exports sprung back to 2008 levels but with one important shift: there was a negative growth of value added products (in tons) from formerly 51.60% to the present level of 46.56%.

Apply this information to markets: China’s role as a consumer of raw blocks is increasingly important for Brazil, whereas the USA’s position as a consumer of slabs is declining in importance.

Conversely, China is becoming an evermore important competitor for Brazil. This holds true for external markets like the USA as well as locally within Brazil.

The local development of consumer markets was positive, increasing from 51.07 million m² in 2007 to 66.11 million m² last year, or 0.35 m² (measured in strength of 2 cm) today as compared to 0.27 m² per capita in 2007.

However a large portion of local orders went to suppliers abroad: imports rose by 42.47% to 51.44 million US $. Brazil’s increasingly strong currency levels the path for foreign markets.

BusinessStone.com published a paid content download of analyses of the Brazilian markets in January 2011