DEATH OF THE WHITE GOLD
Conco, Vicenza - Italy | August 2014
The perfection of marble, especially during the Reinassance, was enjoyed to the point that entire cities were built mostly of it, and famous artists such Michelangelo started using it for its spectacular appearance and superb quality.
In the territory of the altopiano (plateau) of Asiago (Vicenza, Italy) marble extraction has always been the first economic resource for all the incomes of the area. Quarries are spread throughout the mountains that surround most of the villages of the altopiano, and are mostly open on the top of them.
Cavare (extracting from caves) is also the first kind of job developed in those territories, and for that reason it has always been one of the few possibilities for people to get employed there. The regular time life of a quarry is changed radically though, while during the 20th century a cave usually took an average of 50 years to be completely utilized, nowadays it normally takes around 5 or 6 years. The reason has to be found on the use of modern machineries, that allow people to extract faster and without the kind of effort that workers used to put on it in the last century.
Obviously, this has caused the collapse of the system that was sustaining the economy of the mountains, forcing some people to leave their families and birthplaces to find their job somewhere else, and causing theunemployment of others.
The general trading of the Italian marble’s market appears also very flat, while the export abroad has been characterized by an increase of 4.3%. The increasing expenses for taxes and power supplies, with problems related to permits for excavating in new areas of the altopiano, are other kind of problems causing the economical crisis as well.
The trend has been radically changed during the last 15 years especially by the growth of the Chinese, Turkish and Indian market, that put the Italian producers in such a risk of dropping their sales. The cost of the unitary investments are thus decreasing, due to a lack of trust on the future market for marble, and as a consequence of that, more and more young people see themselves with no future in the mountains for a job.