Final trade data for the 2019-20 financial year confirms the strength of Australia’s resources sector in underpinning the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show Australia’s commodity exports reached a record $287 billion in 2019-20, and that resource and energy commodity exports have grown 3.5 per cent since 2018-19.
The figures confirm iron ore exports were worth $102 billion for the year after a massive $10 billion in June.
Australian gold exports also reached a record $24 billion in 2019-20, more than 29 per cent higher than a year ago.
Gold exports are forecast to reach $32 billion in 2020–21, with gold set to become the third largest commodity export behind iron ore and LNG.
Australia is forecast to become the world’s largest gold producer in 2021-22 with output forecast to peak at 381 tonnes as high prices encourage an expansion.
“Australia’s success in becoming a top supplier of iron ore and gold has provided a crucial buffer to our economy, with record earnings helping Australia to face the global headwinds from the COVID-19 outbreak,” Resources, Water and Northern Australia Minister Keith Pitt said.
The resources sector has not been immune from the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic as global industrial activity temporarily declines.
LNG exports edged down to $48 billion in 2019-20, while exports of metallurgical and thermal coal eased to $56 billion.
“I expect these figures to improve as the world emerges from the COVID-19 crisis,” Mr Pitt said.
Meanwhile the Queensland Resources Council says the state’s mining and energy companies will continue to underpin the economy in spite of COVID-19.
CCIQ’s Suncorp Pulse Survey of Business Conditions showed 70 per cent of businesses across the state were experiencing pandemic-related profit hits.
QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said times were tough but Queensland’s resource sector was tougher.
“In the 2018-2019 financial year, Queensland’s mining and energy companies spent $22.4 billion with local businesses across the regions, which was up 16 per cent on the previous year and our highest recorded total in four years,” Mr Macfarlane said.
“The good news is we don’t expect this result to slide backwards significantly in the 2019-2020 financial year because against all odds most resource companies have managed to maintain full production.”