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jul 24, 2017

Brazil’s ornamental stones gain value abroad

But it’s not just oil and gas that form some of the country’s most valuable exports: the country has the largest variety of ornamental stones of any country in the world.

More than 30 different types of ornamental rock can be found in Brazil, from crystals, quartz and feldspars to traditional granites. However, with the high quantity of stone produced in Brazil each year, its variety isn’t the country’s only strength. Now, the industry looks to be off to a promising start, with exports to other countries gaining increasing popularity.

One reason for Brazil’s precious stone exports gaining traction is that certain rocks are found exclusively in Brazil. Pegmatites – feldspars and quartzites – can only be found in the Latin American giant, and are particularly popular for their durability.

Meanwhile more exotic rock types, which differ from traditional granites, also exist in large quantities in Brazil. Examples of this include yellow granites, a result of dark minerals containing iron and magnesium being exposed to oxygen in a tropical climate. Many Brazilian rocks will possess green or yellow hues, easily distinguishing them from stone found elsewhere in the world.

Another reason for the new popularity Brazil’s stones sector is experiencing is the materials’ wide applications. Ornamental rocks are widely used for surfaces in residential properties because of their long life span, as well as resistance to conditions and treatment.

The southeastern state of Espirito Santo is surging well ahead of other Brazilian states. It dominates the country’s precious stone exports, taking up 82 percent of the sector’s foreign trade between January and April this year. Alone, Espirito Santo’s stone exports totalled at $277.4 million, out of a national total of $336.3 million.

Quartzites’ popularity largely comes from the US, where stones like White Macaubas and Mont Blanc are often used in home furnishings. But Brazilian stone is increasingly popular in countries on the other side of the planet, with significant demand from China and the Middle East. Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have increased their demand by 226 percent and 125 percent respectively, while Saudi Arabia is also one of Brazil’s most faithful stone clients.

However, no client is currently proving bigger than Brazil’s BRICS trading partner China. Unlike the US, China is exporting large quantities for construction purposes intended for use in commercial and multi-family residential projects.

Demand from China has been so high that Vitoria’s port, Terminal de Vila Velha, launched a shipping channel directly to the Chinese port of Zhuhai in June this year. Brazilian state officials and national docking company Codesa have both voiced support for the initiative, expressing hope and enthusiasm for ever-strengthening Brazil-China trading ties.

Precious stones are the latest trade shared by the two BRICS nations, bringing about regional income and employment in both Brazil and China. While the new shipping channel was opened because of stone demands, officials also believe it could be useful for facilitating other trades in the near future.