Final trade data for the 2019-20 financial year confirms the strength of Australia’s resources sector in underpinning the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show that Australia’s commodity exports reached a record $287 billion in 2019-20, and that resource and energy commodity exports have increased 3.5 per cent since 2018-19, despite the global economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ABS figures confirm that iron ore exports were worth $102 billion for the year after an impressive $10 billion in June. The June exports rose by 8.1 per cent from May, making iron ore Australia’s first commodity to earn more than $100 billion in a single year.
Australian iron ore production has doubled over the past decade with annual exports enough to build more than 10,000 Sydney Harbour bridges.
Australian gold exports also reached a record $24 billion in 2019-20, more than 29 per cent higher than a year ago.
Gold exports are forecast to reach $32 billion in 2020–21, with gold set to become the third-largest commodity export behind iron ore and LNG.
Australia is forecast to become the world’s largest gold producer in 2021-22 with output expected to peak at 381 tonnes as high prices encourage an expansion.
Resources, Water and Northern Australia Minister Keith Pitt said Australia’s success in becoming a top supplier of iron ore and gold has provided a crucial buffer to our economy, with record earnings helping Australia to face the global headwinds from the COVID-19 outbreak.
“It’s a great testament to our strong environmental and safety standards and the work of resources companies that have allowed us to avoid some of the problems experienced elsewhere in the world.”
However, the resources sector has not been immune from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic as global industrial activity temporarily declines.
Liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports edged down to $48 billion in 2019-20, while exports of metallurgical and thermal coal eased to $56 billion.
“I expect these figures to improve as the world emerges from the COVID-19 crisis,” Minister Pitt concluded.