PERTH (miningweekly.com) – New data from the Office of the Chief Economist has shown that Australia’s resource and energy export earnings are forecast to set a record of A$299-billion in 2019/20, an increase of A$18-billion from 2018/19, while the effects of the Covid-19 virus would likely be felt by the resources sector in the latter part of 2020.
“The strength and diversity of Australia’s resource and energy commodities have allowed export earnings to overcome challenging world economic conditions — to the benefit of the Australian economy,” said Resources, Water and Northern Australia Minister Keith Pitt.
“Iron-ore is expected to be the first commodity to exceed A$100-billion in export earnings in a single year. This is a result of high prices, as well as decades of investment, innovation and automation, which have placed Australia at the forefront of the global iron-ore market.
“Australia is also on track to become the world’s largest gold producer, expected to overtake China in 2021. Our world-class geological resources and innovative industry have allowed a rapid scale-up in production.”
Iron-ore export volumes are expected to grow from 874-million tonnes in 2019/20 to 898-million tonnes in 2020/21, and to 996-million tonnes by 2024/25, while the value of iron-ore exports is forecast to rise from A$79-billion in 2018/19 to A$101-billion in 2019/20, as both volume and prices increase.
The value of Australia’s gold exports is set to reach a record A$26-billion in 2019/20, driven by higher prices and the higher export volumes, with volumes expected to increase by 19% in 2019/20, to 389 t.
Metallurgical coal export volumes are expected to grow from 184-million tonnes in 2018/19 to 205-million tonnes in 2024/25, while export value will decline from a record A$44-billion in 2018/19 to around A$35-billion in 2021/22, to eventually increase again to around A$38-billion in 2024/25.
For thermal coal, Australia’s export volumes are forecast to increase from 210-million tonnes in 2018/19 to 224-million tonnes by 2024/25 as a number of mines ramp up production, while the value of thermal coal exports will decline from the A$26-billion reported in 2018/19 to A$21-billion in 2019/20 as a result of a recent price decline.
Meanwhile, liquefied natural gas (LNG) export volumes will rise from 75-million tonnes in 2018/19 to 81-million tonnes in 2020/21, as the last two projects’ in Australia’s recent wave of LNG investments start to ramp up.
The value of the LNG exports will decline from the A$51-billion reported in 2018/19, to around A$49-billion in 2019/20, and to A$44-billion in 2020/21.
“With these types of numbers we are seeing that exploration expenditure is solid and that there is room for further growth. The best thing that we as a government can do is to remove any red and green tape that will stifle investment and ensure that our policy settings and actions for managing challenges like Covid-19 are right,” Pitt said on Wednesday.
“The resources and energy sector is well positioned to lead this bounce-back thanks to the sound economic management of the government.
“Even if you’re not directly involved in the resources industry, all Australians see the benefits of the public infrastructure like roads and hospitals that the sector’s royalties help fund.
“Australia remains well placed to take advantage of growing market opportunities going forward.”
Pitt said that Australia’s exports of coal, gas and uranium were crucial to global energy markets and its success in extracting and exporting lithium, copper, nickel and zinc also made Australia important in supporting new technology, including electric vehicles and batteries.