EMERGENCY missions to China and Brazil will help an East Lancashire supplier to head off a crisis in the construction industry.

Roofing slate stocks had been affected by the government closure of some state quarries in China, according to officials at Blackburn-based EBP Building Products.

But bosses have been able to source alternative consignments from south-eastern Brazil to bridge the gap and ensure house-building projects across the north-west are not left in the lurch.

Philip Brooke, the Guide company’s managing director, said: “Dealing with China and Brazil for two decades has given us a deep insight into how the industries work in their respective countries.

“But from the back-end of last year we were becoming increasingly concerned about continuing supply of Chinese slate.

“Our top priority is to ensure the UK construction industry can forward plan for slates and roofing tiles and the only way to ensure continued supply was to talk to the quarries both in China and Brazil face-to-face.”

Now more than 500 tonnes of slate is heading to the region from quarries to the north of Belo Horizonte, one of the South American country’s south-eastern states.

Mr Brooke said there had been major growth in the market for natural slate placemats, which had led to the Chinese refocusing thier production priorities. Major infrastructure works had also slowed down transport and shipping routes.

He added: “It was just a perfect storm of factors affecting the supply chain, which was a real potential danger to UK construction.”