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The lift in iron ore prices, liquefied natural gas (LNG) volumes grew and robust gold output proved a boon to Australia's mining sector's recovery. Western Australia’s resources sector surged 16% in sales revenue during 2017 to A$108.8 billion.

BHP Ironore

BHP Iron Mining Revenues Surge

The Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety reported Thursday that iron-ore sales rose 14% on 2016, to almost A$63-billion, gold sales hit a record A$11-billion, more than twice what in just ten years.LNG volumes increased by 38% on 2016 to a record 32.7-million tonnes as more projects came on line.

"2017 was a positive year for Western Australia's resources industry and it was encouraging to see record production across key sectors,” said Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston.

Minerals

Mineral commodities dominate the industry, accounting for 80 per cent, or $87 billion, of the total sales value.

Iron Ore

Iron ore is by far the most valuable commodity accounting for 72 per cent of mineral sales and 58 per cent of overall sales. Iron ore recorded sales of $62.9 billion in 2017, an increase of 14 per cent. This increase was the result of stronger than expected iron ore prices combined with a three per cent increase in the quantity of iron ore sold, to reach a record 795 million tonnes.

Gold

Gold sales reached 210 tonnes (6.76 million ounces) in 2017, a 6.7 per cent increase on 2016 volumes. The increase in volumes drove a small increase in the value of the sector from $10.6 billion in 2016 to $11.1 billion in 2017.

Alumina and Bauxite

Alumina and bauxite sales accounted for seven per cent of mineral value. Sales volumes increased by close to five per cent, attributable to the increase in bauxite exports, more so than an increase in alumina sales. Improved alumina prices throughout the year meant that the value of the sector increased 28 per cent to $5.9 billion in 2017.

Nickel

Western Australia’s nickel sector continued to struggle with low prices due to a global supply glut in 2017. As a result, mines have been forced to shut down or scale back operations, resulting in the fifth consecutive calendar year fall in sales volumes.

"The statistics reflect the industry's strong economic performance in 2017, despite facing global demand challenges and geopolitical instability.”

There was strength in the resources sector outside the big names also.

Spodumene

Sales of spodumene, the primary lithium bearing mineral produced in WA rose 166% to reach A$780-million in 2017.

This was primarily due to the near doubling of spodumene sold as two new mines (Jiangxi Ganfeng Lithium Co’s Mt Marion project and Mineral Resources’ Wodgina project) came online and a third (Galaxy Resources’ Mt Cattlin project) reached full production. Average prices also continued to improve in line with the average global received price for lithium carbonate, which grew by 33 per cent year-on-year.

The remaining minerals sales values comprised:

  • Base metal sales of $1.5 billion (up 7.5 per cent)
  • Coal sales of $339 million (up 3 per cent)
  • Cobalt sales totalling $376 million (up 122 per cent)
  • Diamond sales of $267 million (down 4 per cent)
  • Mineral sands sales of $491 million (down 20 per cent)
  • Salt sales of $274 million (down 12 per cent).

 WA Resources Revenue

Petroleum

The petroleum sector, which comprises crude oil, condensate, LNG, natural gas and LPG, accounts for 20 per cent of the total value of mineral and petroleum sales in Western Australia. This makes it the second most valuable sector after iron ore. As a whole, the sector was valued at $21.7 billion in 2017, an increase of 27 per cent from $17 billion in 2016.

LNG

The volume of LNG produced in Western Australia has increased 38 per cent over the year reaching a record 32.7 million tonnes in 2017.

This follows the recent start–up of several major LNG projects in recent years. LNG is Western Australia’s most valuable petroleum product, accounting for 14 per cent of the State’s total mineral and petroleum sales in 2017. The value of LNG sales value rose from $10.6 billion in 2016 to $14.9 billion in 2017.

Crude Oil

In 2017, crude oil volumes were down nine per cent to 5.2 gigalitres, while condensate production decreased three per cent to 6.3 gigalitres. Improved global oil prices, saw the value of crude oil and condensate sales increase for the first time since 2015 to $4.7 billion.

Job Growth

With mining recovering the average number of people directly employed in Western Australia's minerals sector rose by 6% to more than 111 000.

"It's pleasing to see that employment in the mining sector continues to increase,” the Minister said.

Source: Government of W.A.

From a sunburnt country

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