19/09/2006 - 22:00

Minerals exports top $90bn

19/09/2006 - 22:00

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Western Australia’s resources boom has helped deliver unprecedented returns for the national economy, with export earnings from the minerals and energy sector increasing 32 per cent to reach $90.5 billion in 2005-06.

Minerals exports top $90bn

Western Australia’s resources boom has helped deliver unprecedented returns for the national economy, with export earnings from the minerals and energy sector increasing 32 per cent to reach $90.5 billion in 2005-06.

This year’s result represents a 38.5 per cent increase since 2000-01, when the total value of mineral resource exports was $55.6 billion.

If the sector continues to perform at a comparable rate over the next five years, revenue from resource exports could reach $104 billion by 2007-08.

The findings, released last week by the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics in Australian Mineral Statistics (June Quarter), showed coking coal, iron ore and copper to be among the strongest performers in export earnings.

Other significant increases were made by the refined gold, LNG, zinc, aluminium, alumina and steaming coal markets.

Dr Brian Fisher, who left the position of executive director at Abare last week, said the results could largely be attributed to higher export prices, in addition to increased export volumes.

“The increase in the index in 2005-06 mainly reflects substantial increases in world prices for most major minerals and energy commodities,” Dr Fisher said.

Higher export prices were achieved for about 85 per cent of minerals and energy commodities exported.

Increases in production were recorded for just more than half of minerals and energy commodities, with major increases in refinery LPG (13 per cent) and refined gold (10 per cent).    

The record result follows a fall in commodity prices last week.

While the market has since recovered ground, cautious sentiments are being expressed about the longevity of the current growth in the Australian economy.

A report last week by BIS Shrapnel warned that, despite an increase in business investment of about 17.3 per cent in 2005-06, largely driven by the mining sector, a downturn is expected later in the decade.

Current high levels of investment in housing, mining and business are predicted to slow down by 2007-08, according to BIS senior economist Matthew Hassan. 

Mr Hassan believes the extent of the downturn is contingent upon the depth of the investment boom.

“There is a major risk that the investment boom will be stronger and run for longer, and be followed by a sharper downturn coming later in the piece,” Mr Hassan said.

“Businesses need to prepare for the downturn and governments should be doing everything they can to sustain activity and soften the blow.”

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