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Demand for mineral products continues to grow

Positive first-quarter sales volumes suggest construction activity remains buoyant, says MPA

SALES volumes of aggregates, ready-mixed concrete and asphalt improved again in the first quarter of 2015, according to the latest Mineral Products Association (MPA) quarterly survey of construction material trends.

Seasonally adjusted results, which provide a consistent quarter-by-quarter comparison, indicated that crushed rock and sand and gravel sales volumes rose by 2.2% and 3.6%, respectively, compared with the fourth quarter of 2014, and ready-mixed concrete and asphalt sales were 1.3% and 1.2% up respectively. Annual sales of cement grew by 7.8% in 2014.


However, to put these improvements into a longer-term perspective, the MPA says the latest quarterly volumes for asphalt, aggregates and concrete remain 15%, 25% and 30% below the pre-recession peak, respectively, so there remains significant scope for further improvements in minerals products and construction markets, especially outside London and particularly in non-housing markets.

Nigel Jackson, chief executive of the MPA, commented: ‘Demand for our sector’s materials, which are critical to construction, has continued to grow in the first quarter of 2015, suggesting that construction activity remains buoyant. We believe that recent preliminary Office for National Statistics (ONS) construction data may be underestimating actual levels of activity and await later revisions to confirm the true picture.

‘However, the official data do highlight that construction activity is essential to a continuing economic recovery and a new government must ensure that uncertainty is minimized to boost confidence and to encourage sustained public and private investment in construction following the election.’


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