[Jim O'Brien, Past President, UEPG - European Aggregates Association, in snapsee conference, Slovenia, October 2014]
Each year, UEPG gathers and collates best available production data from 35 coun-tries. The data for 2012 is presented for those 35 countries in the Table on page 14, together with the sub-totals for the EU 28 plus EFTA countries as well as for the EU28 countries only.
Figure 1 summarises the national production tonnages by country and type of aggre-gates. It is notable that Russia has now overtaken Germany in terms of tonnage, and Turkey has moved into third place. Overall in 2012, crushed stone makes up 53% of all production, followed by sand & gravel at 39% and recycled materials at 5%, the remaining 3% being manufactured and marine aggregates.
The 2012 production data clearly demonstrates the continued devastating effect of recession across Europe, with a further 10% decline in EU plus EFTA tonnages from the 2011 level. The slight uptick noted for 2011 proved a false hope. The overall 2012 tonnage was 28% below the 2007 peak. The “bail-out” countries, namely Ireland, Greece, Spain and Portugal have suffered around 80% declines from 2007 in their national markets.
Analysis also shows that, in EU plus EFTA, the number of companies has since 2007 declined by approximately 7,000 to 15,000 in 2012. Still more dramatic has been the corresponding loss of approximately 180,000 jobs (or 44%) since 2007 to figure of 230,000 employed in 2012. The total numbers of quarries and pits remained constant at just over 25,000, though many of these doubtless have been mothballed in recent years.
Figure 2 demonstrates the national productions in tonnes per capita. These naturally vary by geological availability, climate and building traditions. However, the average 2012 across the EU plus EFTA countries declined by 28% to 5.2 tonnes/capita com-pared to 7.2 tonnes/capita in 2007.
The overall expectation is that for EU plus EFTA the overall 2013 tonnage will be an-other 6% down on 2012, indicating a total production of only 2. 5 billion tonnes. It is feared that 2014 will see another small decline overall, with the total EU plus EFTA tonnage possibly declining to 2. 4 billion tonnes, representing an unprecedented 35% decline since 2007. Based on the latest Euroconstruct views, it is hoped to see some return to growth in 2015 and 2016, as illustrated in Figure 5.
The European Aggregates Industry, now even leaner, greener and more sustainable than ever before, is ready to play its part in that much-awaited return to growth.