Marble and Dimensional Stone in the United States
U. S. Statistics of production:
The last statistics showing dimension stone is dated 1993 but is representative of the industry.
As reported by the Mineral Industry Surveys of the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Mines, there are over 162 companies at 256 quarries in 35 states with a total output of 1.2 million metric tons valued at $217 million. From this 51% of the tonnage was granite which means the remainder was limestone, slate, marble, sandstone and other natural stones with Georgia, Indian, Massachusetts, and Vermont being the leaders in production of natural stone.
Production by type of stone:
366,018 metric tons of limestone valued at $50 million which means about $136.60 dollars per ton were produced in 1993; 113,358 metric tons of sandstone worth 7.7 million dollars or $61.75 per ton; 35,641 tons of marble were produced at a worth of 21.3 million dollars or $581.32 per ton; and 32,628 metric tons of slate worth $20.4 million (of which 44% of that was roofing slate) was produced which means at a cost of $625.22 per ton.
Georgia Marble Company still leads the production of marble in the U.S. with Indiana Limestone second in the production totals producing limestone, with Williams Stone and Vetter Stone running third and fourth in the level of production. The largest producers of granite in order of priority are Rock of Ages in Vermont, Cold Spring Granite in South Dakota, Fletcher Granite in Massachusetts, North Carolina Granite in North Carolina, Dakota Granite in South Dakota, and McCannon Granite in Georgia. Other producers of limestone/marble are Alabama Limestone, Oren McBride Stone, Bouquet Canyon, Colorado Yule, Wayne Williams, Idaho Travertine, about 8 producers of limestone in Indiana, Weber, Bayer Stone, H.J. Born Stone, Tri State, Williams Stone, Biesanz Stone, Minnesota Kasota Stone, Missouri Red Quarry, Ritchie Brothers Slate, Jacobs Creek, Waller Brothers, Delaware Quarries Inc. Sandstone, Featherlite Corp. Limestone, American Stone Limestone/Sandstone, Vermont Marble, and many others. If anyone is specifically interested in the top producers of granite, limestone, slate etc. they can contact us for details.
About the producers:
Most of the producers in the U.S. are small and have perhaps 20 employees on the average. Some producers are seasonal meaning they do not produce year round or produce or work the quarry according to the demand for the stone. Many of the companies not only quarry but also work the stone and fabricate dimension stone. These producers have been competing for years against the imports of stone as well as against the foreign technology and most modern equipment required to produce effectively the stone. Labor is also a factor as statistically the U.S. labor factors are normally higher than many other countries in wages. Skilled labor is available but is being reduced as workers find other industries to work in that are easier or with higher pay. Most production is to order while there are some commodities being produced such as tiles, slabs, vanity tops, cemetery stone, fireplace mantels, furniture tables and tops, and accessories. Since 1990 the producers have really been expanding the plants and equipment at an average expenditure of 24 million dollars per year for machinery and 37 million dollars a year in factory facilities. This is a tremendous marked increase in activity not seen in the previous decade.
U.S. Sales of Dimension Stone:
While stone before 1988 was reported statistically different than after 1988, before 1989 statistics showed we had significant increases in stone production and sales with yearly increased in granite as much as 136%, limestone of 400%, marble of 55%, and slate of 200%. The real changes have occurred after 1989 when in 1990 the decline of stone started. Since 1990 the annual producer price index indicates that cost or increases in prices only rose till 1993 at an average of 2.55% annually over the 1990-1994 years. Limestone sales have only increased since 1990 about an average of 5% while marble has increased 34% annually. Granite is still the largest in demand dimensions stone in the market representing about 51% of the market share while limestone was 305, Sandstone 9%, Slate 3% and marble also was 3%.
Production by tonnage has not changed since 1990 and remains around 1,070 tons or $200 million. Imports for consumption in general have declined a lot since 1990 and are reflected by:
Year – Millions of dollars
1990 – 586 54
199 – 475 65
1992 – 404 55
1993 – 398 58
1994 – 436 64
As you can see the imports of and in general dimension stone have decreased in the 1990’s by 26% while the exports have gradually increased. Italy still represents about 53% of the imports while Spain is 11%, Canada 6%, Taiwan 4% in dimension stone. While in granite Italy represents 65%, Canada 18% and Spain 9%. It is interesting to note that in dimension marble slabs while from 1992 Spain was selling the U.S. 2434 metric tons worth 2.98 million dollars in 1993 imports were marginally higher at 2.59 metric tons but worth only 2.26 million dollars. This would indicate prices from Spain have been on the decline. However, some producers in Spain have raised their prices others have been selling at lower prices more commercial selections of stone, which have a lower value per square meter.
Total marble imports representing slabs, dressed marble and other including rough marble is shown in the following table: Spain is indicated separately in ()
In metric tons
Dressed Marble Slabs Other Marble Other including Rough Marble
1991 – 68,558 63,525 149,080 3,580
1992 – 54,089 (2,434) 59,406 (3,501) 126,422 (20,521) 3,365 (134)
1993 – 59,117 (2,585) 60,002 (3,717) 117,853 (24,930) 1,979 (166)
Some of the major producers like Georgia and Vermont have changed operating hands during the 1990’s, which indicates a change in the market for these stones. Much of the production of Vermont is slated for the European market. Their still appears to be high demand for limestone in the market place.
The shift in demand for stone from commercial to residential has been due to the economy and does not appear to be changing. No drastic increased in commercial building are foreseen to increase until late 1996. There is however a lot of speculation by architects and builders indicating that increases in demand commercially are raising.
Many foreign investors are taking this opportunity to seek and purchase granite and marble quarries in the U.S. There are also a couple of major granite plants available for sale. The Canadian economy has not increased in the last several years at all and thus is not foreseen over the next two years to do so. Mexico is suffering due to the high interest rates and inflation and their building market has all but stopped. The dollar situation of exchange rate has gone from about 3.4 pesos to the dollar to about 6 pesos to the dollar so it is clear that they must export and stop imports to succeed. Mexico is making great efforts to increase drastically its exports to the U.S. and now has over 60 marbles and limestones available. For one of the first times there is to be an U.S. manufacturer offering domestic production of limestone in the form of tiles for the producers of limestone. This should add a lot to the sales of this product, which is in demand.
The major demanded colors of limestone, marble, and travertine are still greens, blacks, and beige as far as commodities are concerned. The primary green sales are from Taiwan while blacks are from Spain in the form of Negro Marquina, China black, and now Mexico. Beige is still in the form of limestones, travertine especially cross cut or what some call Saturnia, and Crema Marfil from Spain. The Crema Marfil situation as well as Negro Marquina is on the decline due to the quality problems in acquiring quality marble from Spain. Buyers are looking constantly for alternative stones to replace the Spanish stones as the factories in Spain have not been able to service this market with timely shipments or quality goods and the prices in Spain for a lesser quality have been increasing. Italy is even replacing the sales of these stones from Spain by being able to produce a higher quality product at a competitive price. In the meantime, other countries are coming to the market with alternative stones at more competitive prices.