India eyes NQ marble
FOUR hundred and 50 million year old marble quarried at Pandanus Station west of Greenvale could soon find its way to India.
Indian marble buyer Sahil Aggarwal from the New Delhi area was at the Queensland Granite and Marble quarry 50 kilometres west of Greenvale yesterday taking a firsthand look at the Australian product.
With him was Queensland Granite and Marble director Larry Roccasino from Townsville. The quarry produces white Arabescato patterned marble that has so far been exported from the Port of Townsville to China, Indonesia, Italy, Thailand and Vietnam. India, home to 1.3 billion people, looks certain to be next cab off the rank.
Mr Aggarwal said India's economy was booming under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He said aspirational Indians now desired luxury touches including marble floors, walls and bathrooms for their homes. He said the best Indian marble had been used to build the Taj Mahal, but added that now the country's reserves of high quality marble were almost exhausted.
"I think this Australian marble will be very popular. People have not seen it before. Indian people have become used to marble from Turkey, Iran and Italy. The Indian economy is growing rapidly and people are getting richer every day. The majority, not the minority, drive the economy," Mr Aggarwal said.
"Their spending power is increasing. The Indian people are spending on lifestyle. They want a good home and a German car."
Mr Roccasino said his company had supplied marble to a number of overseas countries and had only just signed a five year contract for the supply of 50 20 tonne blocks a month to China.
Both Mr Aggarwai and Mr Roccasino are confident that worldwide interest in the Greenvale product will continue to increase as it becomes better known around the globe.
They both describe the Greenvale marble as a high quality, "bread and butter product" the meets the demand of 95 per cent of the world market.
Mr Aggarwai said first grade marble such as that from Carrara in Italy could only be afforded by a small fraction of buyers.
"These Grade One and Two marbles are expensive, costing up to 5000 Euro for a block," he said.
Mr Roccasino said 95 per cent of the world market wanted the high quality but cheaper marble such as that quarried at Greenvale.
"Our marble here costs one-third to half the price of the best Italian marble, but it is up there with the marble from Carrara," he said.
There is a bitter pill to swallow and that is Australians are already buying slabs of Greenvale marble cut from blocks sent to Italy.
Mr Roccasino said there was no facility in Australia where he could value-add his product by turning it into slabs ready for the domestic market.
"Our marble goes over in blocks to Italy and comes back here in 20mm and 30mm slabs.
Mr Aggarwai said India would also export slabs back to Australia once its import protocols were finalised.
Mr Roccasino said the 450 million year old marble in the 200 million cubic metre Pandanus deposit was one of the largest in the world. He said eight different colours of marble had been discovered at the site, including white which is the most popular.
"White marble is the most popular marble in the world, and the deposits we've found here are second to none in Australia and up there with the best of Italy," he said. "There are considered to be four leading Arabescato marble deposits in the world. They are in America, China, and Italy and now at Greenvale. Greenvale is regarded as being better than the product from China and America and up there with the best from Italy."