Marbleous Prospects for the Future
Marble is a metamorphic rock found in the older layers of the Earth’s crust. It's formed by limestone or dolomite under great heat and pressure. It's smooth, glossy, elegant, and luxurious. Translucent and crystalline, sunlight penetrates it from 0.5 to 1.5 inches. Pure marble is white but different minerals can react with it to create countless colors and shades during its formation.
The marble import export data suggests a long tradition, a strong demand, and a huge scope for the future. But first, let’s take a deeper look.
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A closer look
Marble is fairly abundant but difficult to mine. It has to be carefully chiseled into liftable blocks right out of the mine. The first known excavation was in Italy, Tuscany in 150 BCE. This was a herculean task back then, done manually with hammers, pulleys, and logs. Hence it was used in palaces and buildings concerning larger groups of people. The Aegean sea’s marble-rich islands and the Anatolia peninsula became excavation hubs of the ancient world. It has become increasingly popular since.
Stonemasons used to refer to any rock that was aesthetic, rich in calcium, and polishable as marble. This included the comparatively inexpensive Travertine stone, the elegant Alabaster, and even some non-metamorphic forms of limestone. Industrialization allowed us to optimize the process and make the stone more accessible than ever. Despite modern solutions, roughly half of the marble produced is wasted during mining.
The Aegean sea and the Anatolian peninsula mentioned above coincide with modern-day Greece and Turkey respectively. As we can see in the marble export data, commercial hubs from over 2000 years still thrive today. The Italian Cassara marble from Tuscany is a world-renowned art material. It was used by the great Michelangelo and is still highly sought after. These regions have many high-end varieties of marble at expensive prices.
Top exporting countries (2020)
- Turkey ($679 million)
- Italy ($289 million)
- Greece ($187 million)
- Iran ($87.9 million)
- Portugal ($71.6 million)
Its extensive use in temples, churches, statues, and other coveted structures has given marble an elite association in the minds of most people. Rapid urbanization in developing countries has been the biggest driver of market growth and demand. Thus despite being one of the biggest producers of marble, India, and China are still the leading importers of the stone. In the marble import data, we can see many other developing countries like Indonesia also have significant imports.
Top importing countries (2020)
- China ($1.15 billion)
- India ($129 million)
- Italy ($62.9 million)
- Egypt ($43.4 million)
- Chinese Taipei ($25.3 million)
What to expect
As marble becomes more easily available and retains its coveted status, demand is expected to increase. Increasing global urbanization also offers new opportunities in developing markets. Turkey and Syria were hit with a 7.2 magnitude earthquake on 10th March 2023. Price fluctuation and disruption in supply can be expected here.
The overall market is highly segmented with a wide range of prices based on factors like polish and composition. Finding the right niche for sellers and the right segment for producers is key to success.