Resources, energy exports tipped to hit record $349b

Australia’s resources and energy exports are forecast to earn a record $349 billion for 2021-22, with a strong recovery for coal and despite lower iron ore prices and the ongoing impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic.  

The September edition of the Resources and Energy Quarterly from the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources found high commodity prices, solid growth in export volumes and a weaker Australian dollar are driving a surge in export earnings. 

It forecasts overall export earnings to hit $349 billion in 2021-22, before falling back to around $299 billion in 2022-23. It follows a record $310 billion in total export earnings in 2020-21.

Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt said the report shows the continued resilience of the resources sector, which remains the backbone of the national economy.

“The sector has gone from strength to strength and is performing better than it was pre-pandemic, further building on Australia’s reputation as a reliable and stable supplier of resources and energy,” Minister Pitt said.

“The forecast export earnings for 2021-22 are close to $100 billion higher than they were a year ago during the peak of the global pandemic and is testament to the outstanding work of all involved in this critically import sector.

“This forecast growth in both export values and volumes will help create further jobs and opportunities in the resources sector, particularly across regional Australia.

“We should take every opportunity to thank the industry for what it has achieved throughout the COVID outbreak, and to thank the hard-working men and women who are the backbone of the industry.”

Australia’s iron ore export earnings are forecast to drop from a record $153 billion in 2020-21 to $132 billion in 2021-22, due to lower world prices, although export volumes are expected to grow steadily from 868 million tonnes in 2020-21 to 939 million tonnes by 2022-23. 

Coal prices have more than recovered all of their 2020 losses, as global shortages emerge. Supply problems and surging demand from steel producers in the major producing nations, have seen Australian metallurgical coal prices hit multi-year highs.

Exports of metallurgical coal are forecast to rise from 171 million tonnes in 2020-21 to reach 186 million tonnes by 2022-23. Revenue is forecast to rebound from $23 billion in 2020-21 to $33 billion in 2021-22.
Thermal coal export values are forecast to rise from $16 billion in 2020-21 to $24 billion in 2021-22, before easing back to $19 billion in 2022-23.

The report finds Australia overtook China as the world’s largest gold producing country in the first half of 2021. Gold export earnings are forecast at $29 billion in 2021-22, before a decline to $27 billion in 2022-23, as gold prices ease back. 

Australian LNG export earnings are forecast to increase from $30 billion in 2020-21 to $56 billion in 2021-22, as oil-linked contract LNG prices rise sharply.

Lithium export earnings are forecast to increase from $1.1 billion in 2020-21 to $3.8 billion in 2022-23. This will be driven by increased spodumene production, and exports of lithium hydroxide after first production occurred in August 2021.

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

Media contact: Minister Pitt's office 02 6277 7180