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First signs of recovery for the production of bitumen

Sector operators will meet at Asphaltica scheduled in Verona 21-25 March 2020

The bitumen market is showing the first signs of growth after 12 years of continuous contraction and investments in road maintenance are gradually being resumed.

The latest data processed by SITEB indicates that road works in 2018 posted a decisive turnaround compared to the last 12 years of continuous decline: the production of bituminous conglomerate came to more than 26 million tonnes, achieving a leap forwards of 10.2% compared to 2017. However, this is still far below the values seen prior to the recession: 44 million tonnes were used on Italian roads in 2006. Major municipal and provincial roads are at a standstill in the wake of unfinished reforms, lack of funds and no money even for routine maintenance.

The significant investments implemented by ANAS also had a major impact on the positive performance of roadworks. Bitumen exports (1,385,000 t) also improved by +7.7% compared to the previous year, confirming that Italy still has significant refining capacity, since production during the year came to a total of 2,861,000 t of bitumen, the highest over the last three-year period.

Sales figures for derivative products are also positive, with the sole exception of oxidized bitumen that remained stable at 20,000 t. On the other hand, modified bitumen posted a significant +8.6% compared to 2017, returning above the threshold of 200,000 t (202,000 to be precise). Industrial bitumen, mainly used to produce rolls of waterproofing membrane, achieved +5.3%, confirming growth expressed in square metres on a national scale in this sector.

These initial signs of recovery, especially as regards road maintenance, must prompt the Government to take effective action in the wake of its attention from the outset to the safety emergency on our roads.

The bitumen and road supply chain will meet at Asphaltica (Verona, Italy - 21.25 March 2020), the exhibition of technologies and solutions for road paving, safety and road infrastructure scheduled in conjunction with SaMoTer - International Construction Equipment Trade Fair.
«Innovation and smart roads» will be the main focus themes for this edition.

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