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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 2013-14 Review

The value of Western Australia’s mineral and petroleum industry in 2013–14 was a record $121.6 billion.  This was 20 per cent higher than the previous year. 

A weakening Australian dollar helped to offset falling commodity prices and averaged 92 cents for the period (a fall of 10.5 per cent). Traditionally perceived as a commodity currency, the Australian dollar decreased in line with falling commodity prices and therefore shielded producers to some extent from lower prices. Increased output, the result of considerable investment in resource projects, particularly iron ore, also boosted the end result.  

Iron ore and gold together accounted for $82.6 billion (87 per cent) of all mineral sales in 2013–14.   

Iron ore remained the State’s highest value commodity, accounting for a record $73.7 billion (78 per cent) of total mineral sales in 2013–14. Lower prices in the June quarter of 2013–14 were countered by the weak Australian dollar and resulted in an increase of 31 per cent in the value of iron ore sales for the year. Project expansions, together with strong demand led by China, saw iron ore achieve record levels of export quantities. This resulted in 631 million tonnes being exported which was an increase of 23 per cent on the previous financial year.   

The US dollar gold price remained weaker throughout 2013–14 compared to the previous period and averaged US$1296 an ounce, down 19 per cent.  In Australian dollar terms it averaged A$1412, a fall of just nine per cent.   This resulted in total sales of $8.8 billion for 2013–14, a fall of just two per cent over the previous financial year. 

The petroleum sector, which includes crude oil, condensate, LNG, natural gas and LPG (butane and propane), was valued at $26.5 billion, an increase of nine per cent on the previous year.  This increase was largely attributed to LNG and to a lesser extent natural gas. 

Mineral and petroleum exports comprised around 90 per cent of the State’s total merchandise exports, representing the major contribution to Western Australia’s 48 per cent share of the nation’s total merchandise exports.  China remains our major trading partner, taking 54 per cent of merchandise exports and is followed by Japan at 18 per cent then South Korea at eight per cent. 

ABS figures showed that investment activity in Western Australia fell during 2013–14, with the State’s mining industry investing $46.8 billion, a three per cent decrease compared to 2012–13.  This result was not unexpected as large investment in mine expansions and new projects transition from construction to production.   

Western Australia remained the nation’s leading mining investment destination, attracting 52 per cent of total national capital spending valued at $90 billion.  Fuelled by strong demand for resource commodities from Asia, new capital expenditure by the State’s mining industry has grown at an annual rate of 15 per cent during the five years to 2013–14. 

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, investment levels in the State’s resources industry will decline as many projects which were under construction will transition to the operational phase. Recent falls in commodity prices have also caused some mining companies to re-evaluate their investment positions. 

As at September 2014, Western Australia had an estimated $160 billion worth of resource projects under construction or in the committed stage of development.  A further $108 billion has been identified as being allocated to planned or possible projects in coming years.

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Highlights in 2013-14

Iron ore remains the State's most valuable sector of the mining industry, accounting for $73.7 billion (78 per cent) of the mineral sector’s total sales.  This result was 31 per cent higher than the 2012–13 year with increased output of 23 per cent (119 million tonnes) which offset weaker prices in the latter part of the year.  In total, 630 million tonnes were sold in 2013–14. 

Gold was the second most valuable mineral sector, with total sales of $8.8 billion, representing nine per cent of the mineral sector’s total sales.  The gold price fell 19 per cent to average US$1296 an ounce and nine per cent in Australian dollar terms to average A$1412 an ounce.  The quantity sold rose from 5.8 million ounces in 2012–13 to 6.3 million ounces, an eight per cent increase. 

Alumina was the third most valuable mineral in 2013–14 reaching $4.3 billion, an increase of ten per cent over the previous year.  The quantity sold was up marginally by one per cent to 13.7 million tonnes.  Alumina prices fell by around three per cent in US dollar terms however the weakening Australian dollar negated this fall to achieve a ten per cent increase in Australian dollar terms. 

Nickel was the State’s fourth most valuable mineral sector. US dollar prices were negatively impacted for the first half of the year however a combination of rising prices and the weakening Australian dollar resulted in an increased price of around two per cent to producers. The quantity of nickel sales fell by nine per cent to 209 thousand tonnes, however the total value fell by four per cent, from $3.6 billion in 2012–13 to $3.5 billion this financial year.   

The overall value of base metals (copper, lead and zinc) increased by 18 per cent to just under $1.9 billion in 2013–14.  Copper dominates this group with total sales of $1.6 billion, up seven per cent on the previous financial year. Sales of lead increased from $35 million to $202 million due to a full year’s sales by the Paroo Station project.  Zinc output levels fell by three percent, with the total value of sales rising from $104 million in 2012–13 to$112 million in 2013–14. 

The total value of mineral sands sales fell a massive 42 per cent to $469 million. Sales revenues were impacted by lower tonnages due to a weakening market for these products.    

The value of salt sales rose by nine per cent to $416 million in 2013–14 while volumes rose by five per cent to 13 million tonnes. 

In 2013–14, diamond sales volumes rebounded by 21 per cent to 11.6 million carats. Increased tonnages and higher grades from the Argyle underground mine accounted for this improvement in sales.  Ramp-up to full operational capacity is on schedule to be completed in 2015. 

Coal prices remained static whilst output and values were both lower by 15 per cent to reach 6.4 million tonnes and $264 million respectively.   

Output for cobalt, as a by-product of nickel mining, fell by nine per cent to 5832 tonnes and higher prices translated into a ten per cent increase in sales value which reached $177 million. 

Petroleum, which includes crude oil, condensate, LNG,natural gas and LPG (butane and propane) was valued at a record $26.5 billion, an increase of nine per cent.  The rise can be attributed to LNG and domestic gas. 

LNG was the most valuable petroleum product in the State in 2013–14 with output increasing marginally to reach a record 20 million tonnes.  The sales value of LNG increased by 16 per cent to reach a record $14.4 billion. LNG production is forecast to grow in the period ahead with supply from new projects coming on stream including Gorgon and Wheatstone. 

Production of crude oil, the second most valuable petroleum product in 2013–14, fell by four per cent to 46 million barrels, with sales values falling to $5.7 billion. Crude oil is continuing its downward trend due to maturing fields however the latest Apache find offshore in the Canning Basin could turn this trend around. 

During the period, the value of condensate increased by three per cent to $4 billion whilst output fell nine per cent to 35 million barrels.  

In 2013–14 domestic natural gas sales increased by 12 per cent to 9.7 billion cubic metres while the value of sales rose by 21 per cent to $1.7 billion.  Output of LPG (butane and propane) decreased by 16 per cent with the sales value also decreasing to $586 million, down eight per cent on the previous financial year.                     

Western Australia’smineral and petroleum resources, in order of value for 2013–14, were:

Commodity $A Billion 
Iron Ore 73.7
LNG 14.4
Crude Oil and Condensate 9.8
Gold 8.8
Alumina 4.3
Nickel 3.5
Others 7.1
Total 121.6


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