WA resources industry sets records left, right and centre

resources industry

BHP's Western Australian iron ore operations in the Pilbara. Image: BHP

The latest annual data released by the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) shows Western Australia’s resources industry achieved record sales of $230 billion and supported more local jobs than ever before in 2021.

Resources sales for 2021 were up 30 per cent, or $53 billion, from 2020, and employment in the sector continued its strong performance with a record average of 156,238 jobs – a significant 10.8 per cent increase, or 15,298, compared to 2020.

The continued operation of the resources sector saw iron ore sales surge to an unprecedented $157 billion given high prices and supply interruptions in competing markets.

The gold industry continued its run with more than $16 billion in sales underpinned by strong prices as economic and geopolitical uncertainty continued.

Lithium sales soared to an all-time high of $2.6 billion – a threefold increase, while nickel sales grew to $3.7 billion, the highest value since 2012.

“Western Australia’s resources industry continued to deliver impressive results across key sectors and commodities, despite facing a challenging year,” Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston said.

“It is especially pleasing to see the resources sector create jobs and drive growth in regional communities.

“WA’s remarkable range of critical and battery minerals, including lithium and nickel, will play a big part in our future success as the world transitions to clean energy.”

The strong performance of WA’s resources sector underpinned the state’s goods exports, rising to a record 52.3 per cent share of the value of national goods exports in 2021.

A five-year high of more than $22 billion was also invested across the sector during 2021 and around $156 billion of resources projects are in the pipeline.

WA Premier Mark McGowan said his government has worked hard to ensure the industry continues to operate given its sizeable contribution to both the state and national economies.

“There are now more people working in the resources sector than ever before – with a record average of 156,238 jobs for 2021,” he said.

“Throughout the past two years, my government has always been focused on saving lives and protecting jobs, and these latest results show that our approach has been the correct one.

“All states and the Commonwealth have benefited from WA’s performance with respect to COVID-19 and the economy – with a surge in revenue to the nation when it needed it most.

“For instance, the Commonwealth receives more than double the revenue from company tax from the iron ore mining sector than WA receives in royalties.”

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