Global Trade in Asbestos 2010 

by Laurie Kazan-Allen



The latest figures detailing the global production and consumption of asbestos have been compiled by the United States Geological Survey (USGS). Despite increasing mobilization by civil society against the use of asbestos around the world, it is disappointing to report that in 2010 over 2 million tonnes of asbestos were used. As in the past, the biggest producers remain: Russia (1,000,000 t (tonnes)), China (400,000 t), Brazil (270,000 t), Kazakhstan (214,000 t) and Canada (100,000 t). Compared to the figures for 2009, minor increases in production have been achieved by China and Kazakhstan while a small decrease has been noted for Brazil. The most startling development, however, is the collapse of Canadian production from 150,000 t (2009) to 100,000 t (2010), a fall of 30%. The near exhaustion of Canadian asbestos mines is motivating industry stakeholders' support for a new asbestos underground mine which they hope will benefit from a $58 million loan guarantee by the Quebec government. This controversial plan has been decried by medical authorities, scientists and concerned citizens in Canada and abroad.

Significant changes in consumption patterns have been recorded in top asbestos using countries:

Top Asbestos Consumers 2009-2010

 2009 (t)2010 (t)% Change
Thailand102,738  79,250-23
Indonesia  82,302111,848+36
Source: United States Geological Survey provisional data

As can be seen by the statistical analysis above, increasing consumptions of 25% and 36% over the last year have been recorded by India and Indonesia, respectively. The particularly worrying aspect of this trend is the fact that legislation mandating worker and consumer protective measures is lacking in both countries.

June 13, 2011



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