Demand for materials used in low-emissions technology is helping to drive Australia’s forecast resources and energy export earnings to new highs, on top of ongoing strong global demand and prices for energy.
The Resources and Energy Quarterly publication for the December quarter, published by the Department of Industry, Science and Resources, forecasts Australian resources and energy exports will earn a record $459 billion in 2022–23, before easing to $391 billion in 2023–24.
The publication forecasts combined export earnings for resources critical to low-emissions energy technologies, such as copper, nickel and lithium will reach almost $33 billion in 2022–23 compared with $22 billion in 2021–22.
Also released today, the 2022 Resources and Energy Major Projects report highlights trends in project development and the scope of the potential pipeline of future investment.
This year’s major projects report shows significant growth in planned investment, including 134 projects in Australia’s new energy pipeline, up from 92 projects last year, with an estimated value of $312 billion.
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Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Madeleine King said the reports underlined how Australia resources and energy exports continue to support the Australian economy at a time of slowing global growth.
“The results underline the importance of the resources and energy sector to Australia’s economic wellbeing, accounting for around 10 per cent of GDP and directly employing more than 250,000 men and women, mostly in regional Australia,” Minister King said.
Minister King said while energy prices have eased in recent months, they generally remain well above levels prior to Russia’s war on Ukraine.
Domestically, the volatility in energy prices across the economy are putting unsustainable pressure on Australian households and industry.
“Demand for minerals crucial to new low-emissions technology, such as lithium, copper and nickel, remains strong and is supporting prices,” Minister King said.
“These materials, along with other critical minerals and rare earths, will be crucial to low-emissions technologies such as batteries, solar panels and electric vehicles, and will help Australia and the world to meet net-zero commitments by 2050.
“Demand for Australia’s lithium remains strong. The Resources and Energy Quarterly forecasts lithium export earnings to increase more than ten-fold in two years, from $1.1 billion in 2020–21 to $16 billion in 2022–23 and $17 billion in 2023–24, making lithium Australia’s sixth largest resources and energy export commodity.”
LNG earnings are expected to rise to $90 billion in 2022–23 from $71 billion last year, driven by a surge in international spot prices.
The Resources and Energy Quarterly forecasts total iron ore export earnings to be around $113 billion in 2022–23. With prices easing since June, the benchmark price for iron ore in 2022 is forecast to average around $100 a tonne. In 2022–23, Australia’s export tonnages of iron ore are forecast to rise to 875 million tonnes, a 2.5% increase compared with the previous year.
International coal prices have declined from record levels but remain historically high. Australia’s combined coal exports are forecast to earn $132 billion in 2022–23.