Today, most of our most exotic and sought after natural stones hail from Brazil. Brazilian natural stones, most notably marble and quartzite, are famous for their unique composition, color, and natural beauty. Read more to discover the history of how Brazil came to be a major player in the stone industry.
The Gold Rush
The beginning of the stone mining industry in Brazil is believed to coincide with the beginning of the gold rush in the early 18th century. Gold was discovered in Brazil after years of economic disarray following the war against Spain and the Netherlands.
Quickly after the gold was discovered, a gold rush ensued, with people from other parts of the colony and Portugal flooding the region during the first half of the 18th century. The gold was extracted inland, known as the “General Mines.”
The Discovery of Brazilian Marble by the Italians in 1970s
In the 1970s, Italians immigrated to Brazil and discovered white marble deposits near the city of Cachoeiro de Itapemirim, Brazil. As the Italian immigrants had been mining natural stone for centuries, they were able to bring the knowledge, technique, machinery, and craftsmanship that is involved in mining natural stone. After this discovery, Brazil quickly became a major player in the stone industry.
Technological Growth and the Expansion of Natural Stone Mining in the 1990s
By the 1990s, Brazil had accumulated a large, experienced workforce in the natural stone industry. Quarries and miners gravitated towards nearby granite quarries, where they were easily able to transfer their skills of mining marble to mining granite. This expansion in resources lead to Brazil’s granite boom.
It was also during this time that Europe started to advance technology to cut and process stone, which drastically sped up up the mining process of natural stone. This new technology, coupled with the abundant resources in Brazil yet to be mined, made Brazil the largest stone exporter in the world.
The Discovery of Quartzite
With this new technology at hand, the search for additional types of natural stone to mine continued. Quarries were set up in Espirito Santo, in the North towards Bahia, and in the Northeast of Brazil. Some explorers even went inland, to states like Minas Gerais or the interior side of Bahia and Pernambuco, which led to the discovery of quartzite.
Because quartzite evolves from sand grains, it is no surprise that much of quartzite, such as Taj Mahal, is lighter in color. On the other hand, in Brazil, minerals are carried through the sand grains by groundwater, creating some of the most unique and colorful quartzite in the world. Fusion Wow, Emerald Green, and Explosion Blue are all great examples of this geologic phenomenon. Today, the most unique and colorful quartzite is being mined in Brazil.
Brazil from the 1990s to Today
Although Brazil had suffered an economic crisis in the 1990s, the stone industry was able to quickly rebound with vigor. Even today, natural stone is a leading export and driving force for the Brazilian economy.
Now, there are more than 300 export processing plants in Brazil for natural stone, as well as hundreds of quarries and blocks being exported to Italy, China, India, and Taiwan where the stone can be processed. The production now covers a large variety of stones, including granite, marble, flagstone, quartzite, slate, soapstone, serpentine, travertine, and limestone, to name a few.