International demand for slate exceeds production.

The media are reporting on the problems facing the sector. The newspaper La Región summarises the causes in this article.

Newspaper La Region – a quarry in Carballeda de Valdeorras

The closure of companies in recent years and the lack of stocks are reducing the sector’s capacity.

Slate producers are having real difficulties in meeting foreign demand. The almost total disappearance of stocks in warehouses and the reduction in production that has led to the disappearance of companies – as many as 22 across the sector in the last decade, as trade sources have pointed out – has meant that the majority of those still operating, some 15, are having serious difficulties in servicing their customers. “What is produced is sold and there is not enough for the current demand”, confirmed the same sources, who also indicated that many orders are served late because of this situation.

This circumstance did not prevent the slate quarries from achieving a turnover of 112.32 million euros in the first four months of the year, 3.8% higher than the 108.20 million euros of 2021. 622 per tonne in 2021 to an estimated 719 in April, while the volume of tonnes of stone exported fell from 174,080 to 156,264, a drop of 10.2%. This is mainly due to the strike in the transport sector.

This increase coincides with a sharp rise in costs, estimated at around 100% for diesel, 90% for electricity, 40% for explosives and 50% for pallets.

France is still the main destination for Spanish slate, and 70,083 tonnes travelled to the neighbouring country, 8% less than what was imported between January and April 2021, but this did not prevent a 7% increase in turnover, to 47.55 million euros. The second largest customer of the slate quarries is the UK, which invoiced 11% less than a year ago. Turnover to Germany also fell by 3%, while Belgium increased by 35% and Ireland by 23%. 1.25 million worth of the product, increasing its turnover by 50% despite rising sea freight costs, with the price per container rising from

Lack of workers and parts

The secretary general of the FICA-UGT Galicia trade union, Javier Carreiro, called for the problem of the lack of workers in slate production companies to be tackled by bringing together employers and workers’ representatives. He highlighted the “lack of manpower”, which he said was not exclusive to the sector.

As an example, he pointed out that Spanish construction requires 600,000 people. “Young people are leaving Galicia and a formula should be sought to make the sector attractive to young people”, said the trade union leader.

It is estimated that the sector employs 4,000 people in Spain, of whom around 2,500 work in Galicia’s quarries, generating some 10,000 indirect jobs and around 26% of the Valdeorras region’s gross domestic product (GDP).

These staff shortages in the slate quarries are partly solved by the incorporation of foreign workers, according to employer sources, who later assured that their adaptation to their new working environment is good, the only obstacle being the language.

In addition to the staffing problem, there is also the problem of machinery, with serious problems in replacing parts that break down.

Source: Newspaper La Región – 07/06/2022