DESPITE record sales increases for many commodities, the strong Australian dollar forced the State’s resources sector to work a lot harder last year.
Preliminary 2003 statistics released by the WA Department of Industry and Resources has shown that during 2003 the value of resource sector sales was reduced by 3 per cent to $26.6 billion, down from $27.3 billion in 2002.
This is despite a record increase in sales of natural gas, iron ore, alumina, nickel, salt, cobalt and manganese.
Nickel was the star performer in 2003, growing 16 per cent in value to $2.6 billion.
Department of Industry and Resources director general Jim Limerick said the dramatic impact of the Australian dollar's appreciation was most evident in its effect on iron ore sales.
Iron ore exports increased 13 per cent to reach a record 194 million tonnes, but sales remained virtually the same at $5.05 billion — compared with the 2002 figure of $5.06 billion.
Alumina displayed a similar trend, increasing to a record level in quantity terms, but showing a reduction in sales value.
Both the volume and value of gold sales were slightly down in 2003.
Western Australia’s resources sector constitutes about 75 per cent of the State's exports and around 25 per cent of the Gross State Product.
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