PERTH (miningweekly.com) – The Western Australian resources sector has again exceeded the A$100-billion mark in the 2017 financial year, with the state recording resources sales of A$105-billion.
This was up 19% on the 2015/16 overall sales value, the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety reported on Friday.
The state government reported that iron-ore sales increased by 31% during the year, while liquefied natural gas (LNG) sales were up 18% and gold sales increased by 7%.
Gold sales broke the 200 t mark for the first time since 2000/01 with 205 t, or 6.6-million ounces, sold in the full year, while iron-ore sales volumes increased 6% to reach a record 790-million tonnes.
The volume of LNG produced reached a record 28.7-million tonnes, following the start-up of Chevron's Gorgon project and record production from the North West Shelf and Pluto LNG projects.
LNG volumes have increased by 45% in the past five years.
"It's wonderful to see so many sections of the resources industry doing well, with gold and iron-ore, in particular, showing strong signs,” acting Mines and Petroleum Minister Rita Saffioti said on Friday.
The Western Australian Chamber of Minerals and Energy (CME) on Friday noted that the resources sector had paid about A$5.7-billion in royalties in 2016/17, an increase of 24% on the previous year.
Iron-ore provided 80% of royalties, with the gold sector the other positive contributor with royalty receipts totalling A$263-million for 2016/17, an increase of about 10%.
The state also received grants for North West Shelf projects, which accounted for 10% of Western Australia’s royalty receipts with A$573-million.
CME CEO Reg Howard-Smith said it was evident Western Australia’s resources sector was making a significant economic contribution to the state’s finances, not just through royalties, but also through job creation.
“Over the last ten years, direct employment in the minerals sector has increased by more than 75%, with the average number of people employed in 2016/17 rising 4% to 108 769,” Howard-Smith said.
“This includes 2 268 people who were employed in relation to exploration activities, at both new and existing deposits.
“This shows just how important exploration activities are to the state, with the government’s proposed gold royalty increase threatening to destroy the jobs that are created through exploration.”
The CME on Friday again urged the state government to provide support to the resources sector through policies that encouraged investment and expansion, rather than taxes and royalties that jeopardise its continued growth and stability.
Australia’s total mineral exploration expenditure was A$1.6-billion in 2016/17, up from A$1.4-billion in 2015/16, with Western Australia contributing over A$1-billion of this spend with the gold and iron-ore sectors attracting the largest share.
Gold exploration expenditure in Western Australia increased significantly from A$385.9-million in 2015/16 to A$509.5-million in 2016/17, the CME said on Friday.
A total of A$22-billion was invested in Western Australia’s mining industry in 2016/17, representing more than 57% of national expenditure.
At September 2017, Western Australia had an estimated A$148-billion worth of resource projects in the pipeline, down slightly from the March 2017 estimate of A$152-billion, including St Barbara’s Gwalia gold mine extension and Talison Lithium’s Greenbushes lithium mine expansion.