Resources and energy exports power path to net zero

The resources sector continues to power the nation’s economy, with new data showing Australia is on track to set a record for resources and energy exports in 2022-23.

The June 2023 edition of the Resources and Energy Quarterly published by the Department of Industry, Science and Resources estimates resources and energy exports earned a record $459 billion in the past financial year, due to the fallout from Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and the impact of a stronger US dollar.

However, export earnings are forecast to fall to $394 billion in 2023-24 and then to $346 billion in 2024-‍25 as commodity prices decline.

The outlook is broadly unchanged from the March 2023 Resources and Energy Quarterly.

The value of critical minerals and base metals, which are crucial to low emissions technologies, are estimated to have posted record earnings of $46 billion for 2022-23, but will fall modestly in the outlook period as lower prices more than offset the impact of higher volumes.

Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Madeleine King said the value of lithium exports in 2022-23 almost quadrupled from the previous financial year, to over $19 billion in 2022-23. But the value will decline to around $15 billion in 2024-25 as prices moderate.

“The latest Resources and Energy Quarterly underlines the Government’s plan to support the development of our critical minerals sector, to make Australia a clean-energy superpower and to help Australia and our trading partners meet commitments to lower emissions,” Minister King said.

“The road to net zero runs through the resources sector.

“Australia is well positioned to supply long-term demand for base metals and critical minerals such as lithium, which are crucial components of clean-energy technologies such as batteries, solar panels and wind turbines.”

The June 2023 Resources and Energy Quarterly features a special report on some materials needed to produce batteries, and finds Australia has abundant supplies of the lithium, cobalt, nickel, manganese and graphite needed to produce these batteries.

The report forecasts lower prices for Australia’s major export commodities of iron ore, LNG, and coal over the next two years, as global markets rebalance.

Iron ore spot prices moderated in the June quarter, driven by the slowdown in global economic growth and an easing in the rate of recovery of Chinese steel production. Iron ore export earnings are expected to decline from $123 billion in 2022-23 to $113 billion in 2023-24, and to $95 billion in 2024-25.

LNG prices have also stabilised over the June quarter, due to warmer than normal temperatures during the Northern Hemisphere winter. The Resources and Energy Quarterly forecasts the value of Australian LNG exports to fall from around $92 billion in 2022-23 to $70 billion in 2023-24 and $60 billion by 2024-25.

The report found the value of Australia’s metallurgical coal exports is forecast to fall from an estimated $60 billion in 2022-23 to $42 billion in 2024-25, while the value of thermal coal, used to produce electricity, is forecast to fall from a peak above $64 billion in 2022-23 to around $30 billion by 2024-25.

The June 2023 Resources and Energy Quarterly is available on the Department of Industry, Science and Resources website.