PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Western Australia's resources sector reported record sales of A$231-billion and the highest-ever employment figures in 2021/22, the state government announced on Wednesday.
This is the fourth financial year in a row the sector has delivered record sales, following A$151-billion in 2018/19, A$172-billion in 2019/20 and A$211-billion in 2020/21.
Iron-ore maintained its historically high status with sales of A$137-billion, gold hit another record with sales of A$17-billion, while nickel recorded sales of A$4.9-billion.
The petroleum sector continued to recover following a downturn during the pandemic. Liquefied natural gas production was valued at an all-time high of A$38-billion and condensate production was valued at a record A$8.6-billion.
Surging lithium prices drove the value of spodumene concentrate sales to a record A$6.8-billion, more than two-and-a-half times its previous record. Lithium was Western Australia's third highest mineral by sales value.
Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston told delegates at the Paydirt Nickel Conference, in Perth, that the growing demand for battery minerals also saw nickel reaching nearly A$5-billion in sales in the last financial year, its highest value in almost 15 years.
Meanwhile, mineral exploration expenditure reached a new high of A$2.5-billion with strong levels of spending on gold, nickel, copper, rare earths and lithium.
“Our exploration sector was about half of Australia's total exploration activity and it's now over 60% of national exploration activity here in Western Australia. And that includes A$241-million last year into nickel cobalt exploration,” Johnston said.
Employment in the sector rose to an all-time high of more than 157 700 workers, an increase of around 6% on the previous financial year.
Meanwhile, more than A$24-billion was invested in Western Australia's mining and petroleum sector, the highest level since 2016, and the state has around A$57-billion of resources projects under development and a further A$87-billion in medium and longer-term projects in the pipeline.