Carrara Marmotec ... one of the quarries visited by delegates during the event.

Carrara Marmotec ... one of the quarries visited by delegates during the event.

Carrara showcases best of ‘white gold’

July 2019

The best of quality marbles, granites and stone technology and services were on display at the annual Carrara Marmotec, a technical B2B event organised by Internazionale Marmi e Macchine Carrara (IMM) in Italy early last month.

The event was held from June 3 to 7 in Carrara with the support of the Italian Trade Agency (ITA). It drew more than 30 companies from the stone sector which showcased their products and technologies before 88 international buyers and architects at close to 1,015 B2B meetings held during the four days, in a bid to keep pace with new trends in a highly competitive and diversified market.

Carrara Marmotec aims at encouraging business opportunities, promoting technical updating and favouring the innovative development of the stone industry, besides monitoring the trends in the world stone sector through the analysis of market trends and collaboration with research centres and institutions, senior ITA officials told R SUSHIL NAIR of Gulf Construction on the sidelines of the event in Carrara.

For 33 years, the event – involving major stone distributors, contractors and traders – has been representing the potential of Carrara and its world-famous marble and is still a point of reference for international professionals in the stone industry who wish to attend technical seminars, training courses, and practical demonstrations of that typical “Made in Italy” craftsmanship that only a region like Carrara can boast of, said senior officials at IMM.

Since 1978, IMM has been focusing its efforts on multiple and varied activities related to the promotion of natural stone and related technologies, with the aim of enhancing the consumption of stone materials through the development of programmes, and actions and initiatives targeted especially at architects.

“Technically, marble is formed from re-crystallised carbon out of limestone which goes through intense heat and pressure caused by tectonic shifting of the Earth’s crust,” explained the IMM officials. “Whereas, granite is a solidified rock from magma comprising compressed quartz grains, mica and similar material. These rocks are drilled, chiselled and also blasted out of mountains and sent to the processing plant. The processing of marble and granite starts from mountain rocks and ends in your kitchen, bathroom, halls etc.”

“The white marble quarries of Carrara are the most precious ones – both in terms of looks and quality and we, Italians, have been exploiting these quarries since the Copper Age,” said a senior ITA official, pointing out at the ‘white beauties’. 

Especially during the Roman Empire, these quarries were used to extract the precious white marble for the construction of important buildings, mansions, and art craft. The best of the commercial marble varieties are found in the Apuan Alps and are of seven types, he explained.

“These are clearly defined for the entire extension of marble formation all over the Apuan Alps, and are quantitatively and industrially the most important ones such as Marmo Bianco Carrara (white Carrara marble); Marmo Venato (veined marble); Marmo Bardiglio (Bardiglio marble); Marmo Nuvolato (cloud-like marble); Marmo Arabescato (Arabesque-like marble); Marmo Statuario (Statuary marble) and Marmo Calacata (Calacata marble),” he added.

On its unique selling point, the official said: “The marble here is a rock that results from a metamorphosis of sedimentary carbonate rocks at 99 per cent purity. Carrara marble is made of pure calcium carbonate. Having a crystalline structure, it is perfect for the use in architecture and sculpture.”

“Legend has it that Michelangelo, one of the Renaissance Masters, went directly to the white marble quarries of Carrara, to choose the blocks to sculpt his most famous artworks, such as the Pietà Bacchus and Madonna of Bruges,” he remarked.

“No wonder, the locals here call these sparkling beauties ‘white gold’,” he added.

Building on the success of White Carrara Downtown, a summertime celebration in Tuscany’s marble capital, IMM launched Carrara2, a specialised event last year for the Carrara stone sector, divided into two complementary moments – White Carrara Downtown and Marmotec Hub 4.0, stated the ITA official.

“The world is changing and Carrara Marmotec too has changed with it, evolving in a new concept-event that turns it from a conventional fair to a place of relationships and experiences, and technological innovation for the betterment of the supply chain,” he added.

Marmotec Hub 2019 was a highly successful business event in the context of White Carrara Downtown. A major highlight of the four-day event was the delegations’ visit to the Carrara stone region through a programme of “Factory Open Days”, including quarry tours.

Carrara2 was indeed an international exhibition of marble, stones, tools, abrasives, transport, and handling and lifting machineries. Some of the leading firms which showcased their products at the event include regional heavyweights Marmilame, Officine Marchetti, Korfmann, Darzzini Machine, Promtec, Gaspari Mennoti, MT Stone Carrara, Bruno Luccheti and Omar Cranes.

ITA has a vital role to play at Carrara as a governmental agency that supports the business development of Italian companies abroad and promotes foreign investment into the country.

With a widespread network of overseas offices, ITA provides information, assistance, consulting, promotion and training to Italian small and medium-sized businesses.

The agency uses the Carrara expo to woo quality investment from top international players.  At the expo, both the IMM and ITA enjoy the support of institutions, trade associations and companies in promoting  natural stone products.

On Italian exports, the ITA officials admitted that the Middle East has suffered a major decline in the quantity and value of exports.

Sales in Saudi Arabia contracted in quantity (-8.85 per cent) but saw an increase in the overall value (+ 3.53 per cent). The same trend was seen in Iraq where there was a drop of 16.66 per cent in quantities and an increase in value of 56.49 per cent, they stated citing official data.

Regionwise, ITA said there was an overall improvement in exports to Asia, which is reflected in both quantities that increased by 1.51 per cent and overall value (1.98 per cent) compared to the first quarter of 2018.

“We’ve had a tremendous response this year in terms of business as well as feedback on new features on display,” remarked Dawood Mesbahi, the executive director of Iran-based Azin Bamdad Sepid Company, a buyer at Carrara Marmotec. 

“We have been doing business with these Italian firms since 1987 and we now hope to see Italian companies set up their businesses in Iran and reap profits. In fact, we have more than 2,200 quarries spread all over the country and we have 6,000 factories for processing of marble stones and that’s indeed lucrative for these Italian firms,” he stated.  

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