January and February were similar to previous years in terms of exported tonnage, but March saw a break in the trend due to the road transport strike that paralysed shipments for 15 days, which considerably reduced the figures. April was decisive for a return to normal, although the lack of available transport meant that the backlog was catching up more slowly than normal. Transport problems remain alarming in Spain, with companies suffering the impact of rising fuel prices and a reluctance to ship to destinations outside Spain due to the risk of complicated returns.
The figures for the whole of May confirm the upward trend in exports, but if we look at the cumulative global figures we see that the pre-covidual volume for 2019 has not been recovered, and all this with the volume of stocks at a minimum in the sector, if we also add the increase in fuel, freight, auxiliary supplies as we have already reported in other editions, we find ourselves in a critical situation with regard to meeting delivery deadlines.
However, it should not be forgotten that this price increase is taking place in a context of high inflation in which all the factors important for the manufacture of slate (explosives, fuel, electricity, transport, etc.) are affecting the sector with increases in prices. This means that companies have very little room for manoeuvre, with the risk that this may entail.
2.- Analysis per countries.
France – the main market for slate in Europe: with 92,507 tonnes, there is a slight decrease in exports of -1.56% compared to 2019 and 2022. However, demand for slate remains strong despite inflation. And if we add the heavy storms of the last few months in certain regions of France, these facts generate additional stress for companies.
UK: in April, 39,970 tonnes were added. -17.09% between 2019 and 2022. In May, the values presented between 2019 and 2022, in the same period, suggest that we are facing a significant drop in exports. Demand in this market remains high and the reason for these figures is mainly due to the transport strike, with exports to the UK facing additional difficulties due to the rigidity of having to combine land and sea transport. The lack of road transport has paralysed ships and led to a bottleneck that still exists in the sector today, despite the demand.
Germany: Exports until May 2022 suffer like other countries from the impact of the strike and the difficulties linked to the funnel effect.
Belgium: unlike the main European markets, the market is on the rise: an increase of +41.65% between 2019 and 2022, characterised by the change in the habits of the end consumer. Transport is favourable as it is an area where European routes converge, which can provide an alternative to the bottleneck experienced by other markets.
Source: Clúster de la pizarra de Galicia – July 2022.