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A key report shows a 19 per cent increase in the number of major resources and energy projects under development in Australia in 2020 compared to last year.

Meanwhile the value of the projects in the investment pipeline increased by 4 per cent to $334 billion over the 12 months from the start of November 2019 to the end of October 2020.

The 2020 Resources and Energy Major Projects was compiled by the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources.

Noteworthy trends include an upsurge in gold and battery/electric vehicle-related projects.

The value of these projects in the development pipeline rose by 33 per cent and 7 per cent respectively, reflecting strong gold demand and expectations of strong growth for electric vehicles.

Among the projects highlighted was Heritage Minerals’ $60 million Mount Morgan gold project in Central Queensland, with a definitive feasibility study recently completed.

The report covers 335 projects, including greenfields developments and expansion projects, that are valued at $50 million or more.

It takes in four stages of advancement – publicly announced, feasibility, committed and completed.

Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt said the report demonstrated Australia’s strength as an exploration and investment destination.

“The resources sector has provided the bedrock for the Australian economy through COVID and this confirmation of growing investment shows how important it will be to the Coalition Government’s COVID recovery strategy going forward,” Mr Pitt said.

“It’s been the capital investments of the past decade that supported the industry, and our economy, through 2020 and it’s good to see there’s a lot more investment on the way.

“The benefits to Australia from the investment pipeline will be significant.”

Mr Pitt said the list included $39 billion in committed project investment and more than $100 billion in early stage projects that were likely to proceed.

“The investment profile shows the emerging opportunity for Australia’s battery commodities, including nickel, lithium and cobalt,” he said.

“With strong investment in production and processing facilities, Australia is well positioned to take advantage of booming demand for these commodities.”

The news was not so good for coal and gas, where the report noted that the flow of projects from the ‘feasibility’ to the ‘committed’ stage remained slow

The report includes 45 coal projects at the feasibility stage, but many of these have been delayed and the summary noted a growing preference for coal expansions over new project investments.

“There appears to be a growing reluctance to commit to greenfield coal projects, and an expanding list of lenders/investors have announced plans to no longer finance thermal coal projects,” the report noted.

“Some pension and equity funds are also divesting from, or limiting, their exposure to thermal coal, narrowing the range of investment financing options available to coal projects.”

About 20,000 construction jobs and more than 7000 ongoing jobs were expected to flow from the committed and recently completed projects on the 2020 major prohect list.

  • The full 2020 Resources and Energy Major Projects report is available on the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources website HERE