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Latest Statistics Release

An overview of the latest key information on the performance of the State's resources industry.

Mineral and Petroleum Industry 2013 Review

The value of Western Australia’s mineral and petroleum sector in 2013 reached a new record of $113.8 billion.  This was 15 per cent above 2012.  This is a strong outcome given weakened commodity prices and the strength of the Australian dollar through the first five months of 2013.

For more than two years, since December 2010, the Australian dollar has been at or above parity with the US dollar.  Since reverting to historical patterns in May 2013, the lower value of the Australian dollar has helped shield producers from lower commodity prices.

The mineral sector is dominated by iron ore and gold.  Together they accounted for $76.8 billion (or 86 per cent) of all mineral sales in 2013.

Iron ore is the State’s highest value commodity, accounting for $68 billion (or 76 per cent) of total mineral sales in 2013.  With strong demand from China, the iron ore sector achieved a record 556 million tonnes in exports, an increase of 16 per cent over the previous calendar year. This growth, combined with the weaker Australian dollar and the comparatively high prices achieved by exporters, resulted in a total iron ore sales value increase of 29 per cent.

In 2013 the gold price was on average 16 per cent lower in US dollar terms compared to 2012. Therefore, while output increased slightly by nearly three per cent, total gold sales fell by seven per cent to $8.7 billion for 2013.

The petroleum sector, which includes crude oil, condensate, LNG, natural gas and LPG (butane and propane), was valued at a record $24.7 billion, rising marginally by one per cent compared to 2012. This increase was primarily due to the Pluto LNG facility coming on-stream, which countered falls in the sales values of crude oil and LPG.

The dominance of the resources sector in the nation’s economy is expected to continue given the number of projects which have been expanded or developed, in particular iron ore and LNG.  However, new capital expenditure levels in the State’s resources industry are relatively lower now as major projects transition from their construction phase to an operational phase.  Recent falls in US dollar commodity prices have also caused some mining companies to re-evaluate their investment positions.

The average commodity price movements, in both US and Australian dollar terms, for the 2013 calendar year are shown here:

Commodity US$ A$
Lead UP 4% UP 11%
Iron Ore Fines China UP 3% UP 10%
Crude Oil DOWN 1% UP 6%
Alumina DOWN 2% UP 3%
Zinc DOWN 2% UP 5%
Copper DOWN 8% DOWN 1%
Nickel DOWN 14% DOWN 8%
Gold DOWN 16% DOWN 10%

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2013 highlights

Iron ore is the State’s most valuable resource sector, dominating the mining industry and accounting for $68 billion (76 per cent) of the mineral sector’s total sales. Continuing strong demand for iron ore saw the quantity sold in 2013 increase by 16 per cent to 556 million tonnes.  This, combined with the higher prices achieved through a lower Australian dollar, meant that total sales value rose by 29 per cent.

Gold was the second most valuable mineral commodity, with total sales of $8.7 billion, representing 10 per cent of total mineral sales.  The average gold price in 2013 was down by 16 per cent in US dollar terms.  This contributed to a decrease of seven per cent in the sales value compared to the previous calendar year, despite increased output of almost three per cent.

Alumina and nickel maintained their long-held positions as the State’s third and fourth most valuable sectors respectively.  In 2013 the total volume of nickel sold dropped by four per cent to 223 thousand tonnes.  Combined with lower prices, this resulted in a 10 per cent decrease in total nickel sales value to $3.4 billion.  In contrast, the total value of alumina increased by nearly 13 per cent to $4.1 billion, supported by a six per cent increase in quantity sold.

The overall value of base metals (copper, lead and zinc) increased by 16 per cent to $1.7 billion in 2013.This increase was due to the recommencement of shipments from the Paroo Station lead project (near Wiluna) and the ramping-up of Sandfire’s DeGrussa-Doolgunna copper-gold project.  By far the most significant base metal was copper, with a total sales value in 2013 of $1.5 billion.  This was up by 11 per cent compared to 2012.  Sales of lead increased sharply to just under $118 million.  However, zinc sales output fell by 16 per cent, with total value of sales falling by 15 per cent from $107 million in 2012 to $91 million in 2013.

The total value of mineral sands sales fell by 36 per cent to $619 million. This was due to lower sale volumes of ilmenite and synthetic rutile in combination with weak prices.

The value of salt sales rose by around 14 per cent to $415 million, supported by a marginal increase in sales volume of three per cent to 12.9 million tonnes. 

In 2013 diamond sales volumes rebounded by eight per cent to 10.7 million carats due to increased tonnages and higher grades from the Argyle underground mine.

While coal prices remained static, the total output and sales value decreased by around three per cent to reach seven million tonnes and $296 million respectively.

Output of cobalt, as a by-product of nickel mining, increased by nine per cent to 6,398 tonnes and resulted in a 14 per cent increase in sales value, which reached $177 million for the period.

Petroleum comprises crude oil, condensate, LNG, natural gas and LPG (butane and propane).  Valued at a record $24.7 billion in 2013, it is the second most valuable sector after iron ore.  The total sales value of petroleum in 2013 represented only a slight increase of one per cent compared to the previous year. This increase was due to Pluto LNG coming onstream, which countered falls in the sales volumes and total values of crude oil and LPG.

LNG was the most valuable petroleum product in the State in 2013, with output increasing by five per cent to a record 19.2 million tonnes.  The value of LNG sales increased to $13.3 billion, up nearly 18 per cent compared to the previous calendar year.  LNG remains second only to iron ore in terms of value to the State. Production is forecast to grow in the period ahead due to increased demand from Asia and supply from new projects including Wheatstone and Gorgon.

Production of crude oil, the second most valuable petroleum product in 2013, decreased by almost 31 per cent to 43.6 million barrels, with the total value falling to $5.1 billion. Crude oil output is continuing its downward trend due to maturing fields.

The value of condensate increased by seven per cent to $4.1 billion with output almost static at 37.5 million barrels.

In 2013 domestic natural gas sales remained relatively constant at nine billion cubic metres whilst the value of sales rose by more than three per cent to $1.5 billion. Output of LPG (butane and propane) fell by 15 per cent and the sales value also fell, to $600 million, which was down 18 per cent on the previous calendar year.

The other category, which includes vanadium, rare earths, manganese and industrial minerals, reached a total sales value of $1 billion for the period.

Western Australia’s mineral and petroleum resources for 2013 are summarised below.

Commodity $A Billion 
Iron Ore 68.0
LNG 13.3
Crude Oil and Condensate 9.3
Gold 8.7
Alumina 4.1
Nickel 3.4
Others 7.0
Total 113.8


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