29/03/2018 - 14:53

Resources sector hits jobs record

29/03/2018 - 14:53

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Employment in WA's resources sector hit a record level in 2017, while revenue lifted 16 per cent to $108 billion, according to the latest data from the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety.

Iron ore was the state's most significant commodity.

Employment in Western Australia's resources sector hit a record level in 2017, while revenue lifted 16 per cent to $108 billion, according to the latest data from the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety.

About 111,200 people were employed across the resources sector, up about 6 per cent from the previous year.

That was narrowly higher than the previous peak in 2013, the department said, although notably, hours worked were 17 per cent lower.

The increase in revenue was driven by a surge in iron ore exports and an improvement in the price of that commodity, with revenue from iron ore 14 per cent higher at nearly $63 billion.

But the improvement has not yet meant iron ore has surpassed its previous peak.

In 2014, for example, iron ore sales were $65 billion, while they had been $70 billion in 2013.

One commodity to havegrown significantly was petroleum, with revenue up 28 per cent.

A big contribution came from the LNG industry, which increased output by 38 per cent to $32.8 billion.

That is double the level of 2014, with new projects such as Chevron's Gorgon and Wheatstone coming online in the intervening years.

The value of gold sales lifted 4.7 per cent to $11.1 billion, while bauxite and alumina was 28 per cent higher at $5.9 billion.

There was a jump in revenue from two battery-related metals, too.

Cobalt revenue more than doubled to be $376 million, while lithium was 166 per cent higher to be $780 million.

The department said about $53 billion of projects were committed and under construction - most of this would be in mega LNG projects such as Ichthys and Prelude that are nearing completion.

It said a further $50 billion were planned or possible; that has picked up in the past 18 months, with the department previously estimating $46 billion of projects possible or likely.

Large LNG projects, such as Browse and Scarborough, would account for a large portion of this total, and they would sit in the 'possible' category.

The 'planned' projects are mostly in the mining sector, and include iron ore developments by the likes of BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group.

Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston said the government supported the resources sector.

"2017 was a positive year for Western Australia's resources industry and it was encouraging to see record production across key sectors," he said.

"The statistics reflect the industry's strong economic performance in 2017, despite facing global demand challenges and geopolitical instability.

"It's pleasing to see that employment in the mining sector continues to increase."

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