Is 2016 the worst year for commodities yet?

The Bloomberg Commodity Index has recorded its worst start to a year since data began collection in 1992.

The coverage of returns for 22 materials fell four per cent, according to Bloomberg.

Much of this has been driven by the Chinese implosion, as the country devalued its currency and experienced a sharp sharemarket decline; the nation’s markets were also unable to halt the tide of capital flowing out.

This has had a massive impact on mining and commodity prices, which rely heavily on ongoing Chinese demand, and are being negatively affected by continuing uncertainty in the country.

The Commodity Index fell on Monday, for the fourth time in only six sessions, to 74.89, the lowest figure since 1999, edging close to the record low of 74.24 reached in that same year.

Oil has fallen to a 12 year low, with predictions that it may slide down to close to US$10 per barrel.

Copper has also fallen to its lowest point since 2009.

The metal’s price fell to a six year low, dropping 1.7 per cent to US$4407.5 per tonne on the LME, and down to US$1.9964 per pound in the US 24 hour markets, wiping out the majority of gains made late last year.

The Shanghai Futures Exchange recorded a 2.6 per cent decline in copper, compounding a 2.7 per cent drop from last week.

This drove down the value of major mines, with BHP slipping to decade lows, and global miner Freeport McMoran losing a fifth of its value.

Closer to home, the ASX has also taken a battering.

The S&P ASX 200 Resources index closed at a high last week of 2276.30, since then plummeting to 2134.50 at close on Tuesday afternoon.

Despite all this, the Federal Government has predicted mining exports earnings to grow by more than 40 per cent by 2019-2020.

The release of the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science Resources and Energy Quarterly report in the December quarter showed the mining sector’s contribution to the GDP over the past decade had increased from six to nine per cent, an upswing of 50 per cent.

The department expects resources and energy earnings of $166 billion in 2015-16, down on the previous year by four per cent due to lower commodity prices.

Chief economist Mark Cully said the low price conditions that characterised 2015 were forecast to persist in the short term, and that any prospect of recovery in that time frame was limited.

“On the home front, Australia’s production of most commodities has continued to increase despite lower prices,” he said.

“The rapid increase in mining output is expected to underpin the production phase of the boom and provide some support to export earnings.

“However, the increase in volumes is unlikely to be sufficient to offset the effect of lower commodity prices across the board.”

To keep up to date with Australian Mining, subscribe to our free email newsletters delivered straight to your inbox. Click here.