An overview of the latest key information on the performance of the State's resources industry.
The series of resources data files published by the department have been revamped in terms of format and the depth of information they provide. Please contact statistics if you would like to make any comments on the resource data files.
Resources data files
Mineral and Petroleum commodity review 2017
The global economic picture was quite positive in 2017 with activity across the resources sector generally strengthening in the latter stages of the year. There was better-than-expected growth in the Eurozone, emerging Asia and emerging Europe countries and China’s economy expanded beating market expectations.
The Australian dollar averaged 77 US cents on 2017, up from an average of 74 US cents in 2016. Similarly, global commodity prices generally held up well over the year which, coupled with strong production, helped Western Australia’s mineral and petroleum industry improve year-on-year.
In 2017, Western Australia’s mineral and petroleum industry reported sales of $108.8 billion. The 16 per cent increase in year-on-year sales value was led by steadily improving volumes and relatively steady iron ore prices, a strong growth in LNG volumes and the continued strength of the gold sector.
These three sectors were the major contributors to industry value with iron ore sales up 14 per cent, LNG sales up 39 per cent and gold sales up four per cent. Combined, these three commodities grew by $12.7 billion dollars compared with 2016, representing over 80 per cent of total industry growth for the year.
Mineral sector highlights
Mineral commodities dominate the industry, accounting for 80 per cent, or $87 billion, of the total sales value. Iron ore is by far the most valuable commodity accounting for 72 per cent of mineral sales and 58 per cent of overall sales.
Iron ore recorded sales of $62.9 billion in 2017, an increase of 14 per cent. This increase was the result of stronger than expected iron ore prices combined with a three per cent increase in the quantity of iron ore sold, to reach a record 795 million tonnes.
Gold sales reached 210 tonnes (6.76 million ounces) in 2017, a 6.7 per cent increase on 2016 volumes. The increase in volumes drove a small increase in the value of the sector from $10.6 billion in 2016 to $11.1 billion in 2017.
Alumina and bauxite sales accounted for seven per cent of mineral value. Sales volumes increased by close to five per cent, attributable to the increase in bauxite exports, more so than an increase in alumina sales. Improved alumina prices throughout the year meant that the value of the sector increased 28 per cent to $5.9 billion in 2017.
Western Australia’s nickel sector continued to struggle with low prices due to a global supply glut in 2017. As a result, mines have been forced to shut down or scale back operations, resulting in the fifth consecutive calendar year fall in sales volumes.
However, the decline was much smaller than previous years (0.3 per cent) and, for the first time since 2014, the average Australian dollar nickel price improved slightly, resulting in a five per cent increase in the sector’s value to $2.2 billion. The nickel industry was also supported in 2017 by a surge in the price of cobalt, a common by-product of nickel mining, which more than doubled year-on-year.
Finally, although not a top four commodity, growth in the lithium sector is of interest. Sales of spodumene (the primary lithium ore mineral produced in Western Australia) increased by 166 percent to reach $780 million in 2017.
This was primarily due to the near doubling of spodumene sold as two new mines (Jiangxi Ganfeng Lithium Co’s Mt Marion project and Mineral Resources’ Wodgina project) came online and a third (Galaxy Resources’ Mt Cattlin project) reached full production. Average prices also continued to improve in line with the average global received price for lithium carbonate, which grew by 33 per cent year-on-year.
The remaining minerals sales values comprised:
- Base metal sales of $1.5 billion (up 7.5 per cent)
- Coal sales of $339 million (up 3 per cent)
- Cobalt sales totalling $376 million (up 122 per cent)
- Diamond sales of $267 million (down 4 per cent)
- Mineral sands sales of $491 million (down 20 per cent)
- Salt sales of $274 million (down 12 per cent).
Petroleum sector highlights
The petroleum sector, which comprises crude oil, condensate, LNG, natural gas and LPG, accounts for 20 per cent of the total value of mineral and petroleum sales in Western Australia. This makes it the second most valuable sector after iron ore.
As a whole, the sector was valued at $21.7 billion in 2017, an increase of 27 per cent from $17 billion in 2016.
The volume of LNG produced in Western Australia has increased 38 per cent over the year reaching a record 32.7 million tonnes in 2017. This follows the recent start–up of several major LNG projects in recent years.
LNG is Western Australia’s most valuable petroleum product, accounting for 14 per cent of the State’s total mineral and petroleum sales in 2017. The value of LNG sales value rose from $10.6 billion in 2016 to $14.9 billion in 2017.
In 2017, crude oil volumes were down nine per cent to 5.2 gigalitres, while condensate production decreased three per cent to 6.3 gigalitres. Improved global oil prices, saw the value of crude oil and condensate sales increase for the first time since 2015 to $4.7 billion.
For an overview of how Western Australia performed against key activity indicators, please see Review of industry activity indicators 2017. The review covers employment, investment, exploration and royalty growth for 2017.
For more information on Statistics Digest
For more information on the Annual Report