WA’s resources sector breaks records in 2018-19

See all the information in the Western Australian Mineral and Petroleum Statistics Digest 2018-19.
Date: Friday, 11 October 2019

Important records were broken in Western Australia’s resources sector during the 2018-19 financial year.

Iron ore sales soared to a record $78.2 billion and gold sales hit an all-time high of almost $12 billion, with the Australian-dollar gold price at record levels.

Gold averaged $1,958 in June this year – the first time it has broken through the $1,900 mark.

Alumina and bauxite sales achieved a record $8.3 billion in sales on the back of continued increases in bauxite exports.

“These figures are some of the high points in the latest statistics release by the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation (DMIRS),” Acting Geological Survey and Resources Strategy Division Executive Director Dr Ian Tyler said.

“The 2018-19 financial year also marked the 125th year DMIRS has published key statistical information about the State’s resources sector.

“Western Australia’s strong resources-sector performance continues to rank as one of the world’s top contributors to the global commodity market.”

United States Geological Survey data ranked WA among the top five countries for the production of eight different major minerals and in the top 10 of a further three.

The petroleum sector – crude oil, condensate, LNG, natural gas and LPG – was again the second most valuable sector after iron ore, making up 26 per cent of the total value of WA’s mineral and petroleum sales.

“The sector was valued at $38.4 billion in 2018-19, a significant jump of 45 per cent from $26.5 billion in 2017-18,” Dr Tyler said.

LNG remains WA’s most valuable petroleum product, accounting for 20 per cent of all mineral and petroleum sales in 2018-19.

The value of LNG sales rose $10 billion from $18.9 billion in 2017-18 to $29 billion in 2018-19.

“As well as reporting important statistics, the DMIRS annual digest provides some interesting industry commentary and analysis that helps readers to interpret the facts,” Dr Tyler said.

“A good example of this is in the digest’s sections on lithium and nickel.

“Global oversupply dampened Western Australia’s emerging lithium industry, but the digest gives a broader picture that includes the responses industry are implementing to manage their operations through these challenges.

“Similarly, the digest reports that nickel prices have remained subdued in response to weaker than expected global demand.

“The digest explains that the use of nickel as a battery material is growing in Europe, but at the moment, this market is still not big enough to offset the lower demand for nickel to be used in stainless steel.”

Dr Tyler said an increase in the number of mining tenements and exploration licences was a key indication that exploration was on the rise in WA.

In 2018-19, mining tenements covered 47.2 million hectares of land – up from 44.2 million hectares in 2017–18.

The number of exploration licences increased for the third consecutive year, from 5257 in 2017-18 to 5391 in 2018-19.

On the jobs front, WA’s mining industry employed an average of 124,010 people during 2018-19, up from 112,008 in the previous financial year.

See all the information in the Western Australian Mineral and Petroleum Statistics Digest 2018-19.