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Resource industry exports are forecast to earn a record $296 billion in 2020–‍21 and remain strong over the next five years, driven by ongoing demand for iron ore and growth in technology-related commodities such as lithium, nickel and copper.

The latest Resources and Energy Quarterly from the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources covers a five-year outlook and highlights how the mining sector is poised to capture growth opportunities from the COVID-19 recovery.

Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt said the forecast result showed how well the resources sector had managed the challenges of the past year and just how important it remains to our national economic success.

“The increasing demand for Australian commodities has allowed export earnings to overcome challenging conditions for the benefit of the Australian economy and Australian jobs,” he said.

“The rollout of COVID-19 vaccines presents an opportunity to bring the pandemic under control and boost global economic activity and further demand for Australian commodities.

“Iron ore is benefitting from both high prices, as well as decades of investment, innovation and automation which have placed Australia at the forefront of the global iron ore market.”

The March Resources and Energy Quarterly forecasts overall export earnings to hit a record $296 billion in 2020-21, up from the December forecast of $279 billion, before a modest fall to $288 billion in 2021-22 and then stabilising over the outlook period.

Australia’s iron ore export earnings are forecast to reach a record high of $136 billion in 2020–21, up from the December forecast of $123 billion.

Exports of new technology related commodities are set to surge over the next five years, with lithium exports set to rise more than five-fold in real terms, nickel expected to almost double, and copper set to increase by a third over the outlook period.

Australia’s base metal exports are expected to grow over the short to medium term, as a rebound in global economic growth and industrial production increases the demand for Australian ferrous and non-ferrous metals.

The latest Resources and Energy Quarterly is available on the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources website.