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Mining industry to earn Australia a record quarter-trillion dollars in exports

2 October 2018

Australia’s mining industry is set to deliver a record $250 billion in exports to the Australian economy this year.

The export figures are contained in an in-depth federal government report released today by Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan.

“The current estimate is that exports of resources and energy will bring in more than $250 billion – or a quarter of a trillion dollars – in the current 2018-19 financial year,” Minister Canavan said.

“They contribute well over half of Australia’s total exports of goods and services, highlighting the fact the mining boom in this country is far from over.”

Minister Canavan said Australia was now the world’s number one exporter of lithium, while coal was expected to be the nation’s number-one export earner in 2018-19 at more than $61 billion, narrowly ahead of iron ore at $60 billion.

Liquid natural gas (LNG) exports were set to lift sharply to $48 billion, as record investments by LNG companies in Australia continue to pay off.

“These are huge sums, and reflect the success and hard work of Australian exporters in supplying the growing Asian market,” Minister Canavan said.

“These exports are benefitting Australians everywhere by providing jobs, wages and spending on goods and services, not just in the regions where mining is carried out but also in cities like Brisbane and Perth and other capitals, where so many mining companies have offices.

“These companies also contribute royalties that are boosting the coffers of state governments and make the provision of vital services possible. For example, if not for mining royalties, every household in Queensland would pay an extra $2,000 a year in state taxes to maintain the current level of services and infrastructure the state government provides.

“The higher the level of export earnings, the higher the contribution of mining companies across the national economy. These export figures are great news for Australian families.”

Minister Canavan said the strong demand for high-quality Australian coal would see coal regain its traditional position as our single most valuable resource export.

“Coal held this position for decades until it was overtaken by booming iron ore exports in 2010 and is great news for the major coal-producing states of Queensland and New South Wales,” he said.

“With strong demand and high prices for metallurgical coal, used in steel-making, it is expected to bring in $36 billion. Continuing strong demand from China and India in particular for thermal coal, used in power stations, will see it earn a record $25 billion.

“It is likely coal and iron ore will continue to fight it out for the title of Australia’s top export-earner in coming years, and this is great news for the Australian economy.

“LNG is also performing strongly, with exports likely to increase in value by 54 per cent from $31 billion in 2017-18 to $48 billion in 2018-19 – driven by both higher export volumes and higher prices – before levelling out next year.”

Minister Canavan was commenting after the release today of the September 2018 “Resources and Energy Quarterly”, compiled by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, and providing in-depth analysis of commodity markets and detailed forecasts for production, exports and prices.

“Lithium is the subject of a special chapter in the publication this time, reflecting its growing importance as an Australian mineral export,” Minister Canavan said.

“The Office of the Chief Economist has examined the growing global market, new mines opening in Western Australia and future prospects for the lithium industry in Australia.

“The report says exports of spodumene ore, the precursor material for lithium, have risen from around $117 million in 2012 to $780 million in 2017, and are expected to rise to around $1.1 billion by 2020, and points out even greater value could be unlocked if Australia progresses in refining these ores into more valuable forms of lithium.

“A separate lithium chapter will be an ongoing feature of future editions of the ‘Resources and Energy Quarterly’.” 

The September 2018 “Resources and Energy Quarterly” is available at at https://www.industry.gov.au/data-and-publications/resources-and-energy-quarterly-september-2018

Media contact: Minister Canavan's office  02 6277 7180