Mining exports down $16bn

Lower commodity prices will shave $16 billion off mining and energy exports this year, according to a government commodities and economics researcher.

The export value will be lower in spite of higher quantities of exports and a lower exchange rate, according to the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics.

Iron ore and coking coal, the country’s largest export commodities, had the biggest slump, with export values dropping $5.4 billion and $9 billion respectively compared to 2012.

Australia’s 15 largest export commodities are predicted to have a combined value of $176.5 billion in 2013. This is down by $15.9 billion from 2012.

The bureau said only five of the 15 commodities it looked at were holding up will, with LNG exports increasing by 28 per cent – a $3.3 billion upturn from 2012.

Exports of manganese ore, crude oil, alumina and LPG also improved in 2013, but only by a sum of $800 million, the SMH reported.

But the bureau has also predicted a substantial recovery in 2014. It said the sector will see a $196 billion return in 2014. This is based on the prediction of permanent easing of the Australian dollar and more growth in quantity of exports than in the last five years.

The bureau produced a graph which predicts the Australian dollar will stay below parity with the US dollar throughout 2014 which would generate billions of dollars to the sector.

Federal opposition leader Tony Abbott spoke to the resources industry at a conference in Canberra on Wednesday. He said he would eliminate the environmental approvals system by setting up a ‘one-stop-shop’.

He said he would set up a single approvals process ‘via the state system’. Some deduced this meant federal powers over environmental approvals would be thinned out.

Business Council of Australia chief Jennifer Westacott approved the policy.

“The double handling and delays that are evident in the current environmental approvals processes cost jobs, while doing nothing to protect the environment.”

But Greens environment spokeswoman Senator Larissa Waters said: “Tony Abbott wants to wind back environment protection by 30 years by handing national environmental law over to his state cronies.”