The Resources and Energy Quarterly for the June quarter forecasts that export earnings for the 2020-21 financial year will reach a record $310 billion, with the highest-ever shipments of iron ore and a coal bounce-back expected.
The report, which was released by Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, expects exports to increase by another 8 per cent in the 2021-22 financial year to $334 billion.
Mineral exports are showing continued improvements due to rebounds from the COVID-19 pandemic, with demand increasing due to the impacts from government and central banks.
Iron ore is slated to rise to a record $149 billion at the end of this financial year, surpassing last year’s $103 billion record.
This is due to higher volumes and record prices which reached upwards of $US200 ($263.50) per tonne in May.
“An easing in prices from the second half of 2021 is expected to push export earnings down to $137 billion in 2021–22, and $113 billion by 2022–23,” Resources and Energy Quarterly stated.
According to the report, metallurgical coal prices have had a moderate recovery with the price forecast to increase form an average of $US143 per tonne in 2021 to around $US157 per tonne in 2023.
Supply chains disrupted by China’s informal import restrictions have largely reorganised, albeit with some loss of revenue,” Resources and Energy Quarterly stated.
The report stated coal export values will rebound from $22 billion in 2020-21 to almost $32 billion by 2022-23.
Thermal coal has also shown a recovery with the Newcastle benchmark to average $US88 per tonne in 2021 before dropping to US$67 per tonne by 2023.
Australia’s gold exports are expected to rise to its highest export value in history at $29 billion in the 2021-22 financial year before declining to $28 billion in 2022-23.
According to the report, labour and skills shortages have impacted Australian gold mine production.
Gold production is set to rise from 332 tonnes in the 2020-21 financial year to 388 tonnes in the 2022-23 financial year.
The nickel price will have a 26 per cent higher average than in 2021 at $US17,360 due to the commodity continuing to remain in a deficit, with Australian nickel exports to rise from 197,000 tonnes in 2020-21 to 251,000 tonnes in 2022-23.
This is largely due to electric vehicle demand, with lithium also slated for an increase from 233,000 tonnes in 2019-20 financial year to 327,000 tonnes in the 2022-23 financial year.
The report also expects the copper price to stabilise through to 2023, with moderate exports to continue from 924 tonnes in the 2020-21 financial year to around 909,000 tonnes in 2022-23.
Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt said the results show the importance of the resources sector for Australia’s economy.
“These incredible results underline the importance of Australia’s resources sector to the national economy and international markets throughout the COVID-19 downturn,” he said.
“Australia’s energy and resources sector has remained safe and reliable suppliers to domestic and global markets throughout the pandemic, helping to underpin economic growth and overcome the challenging trade conditions of the past year.”