Materials and commodities
- Timber | The Timber Trade Federation reported a surge in imported timber levels with 1.01 million cubic metres imported in June. Imports in the year to date have been at the highest level since 2007. Monthly timber imports rarely exceed 1 million m3 but have done so in five of the last nine months. Shortages fuelled by high demand are expected to continue in the short to medium term.
- Graphene resurfacing | National Highways is carrying out the world’s first resurfacing works using graphene additives. It is hoped that the material will offer durability improvements. Graphene research was included in the then Chancellor George Osborne’s Budget in 2014, hailing it as a “Great British Discovery”.
- Cement strike | Lorry drivers for Hanson are to hold a strike ballot over pay, having rejected a 2.5% pay increase this year. Unite added that “the workforce is deeply unhappy about the high handed management style and a marked lack of dignity at work”. The ballot takes place between 10th and 23rd September and could affect cement supply levels if the strike goes ahead.
- Concrete products | Marshalls has started construction on a new £20m block plant in St Ives, Cambridgeshire after order levels showed a strong rebound. The company aims to create “more opportunities to source products from mainland Britain with less reliance on imports.”
- Iron ore | ArcelorMittal is to triple iron ore production in Liberia. Annual production will increase to 15-million tonnes during the first phase of expansion and could rise as high as 30-million tonnes. Meanwhile, iron ore futures prices fell for a second week as demand from China fell because producers are monitoring energy consumption in an effort to reduce pollution.