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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

2016 Economic indicators resources data - 869 Kb

2016 Economic indicators resources data

2016 Major Commodities Resources File - 2030 Kb

2016 Major Commodities Resources File

2016 Spatial and regional resources data - 460 Kb

2016 Spatial and regional resources data

Mineral and Petroleum industry overview 2016

In 2016, global commodity markets continued to rebalance amid slowing investment, mine closures, political uncertainty and policy change.

Despite this the Australian dollar was mostly steady during the year, down slightly from an average of 75 US cents in 2015 to 74 US cents for 2016.

In 2016 the mineral and petroleum industry reported sales of $92.1 billion which was an increase of $712 million, or 0.8 per cent, from 2015. The improvement from last year is largely on the back of increases from Western Australia’s two largest mineral commodities, iron ore and gold.

Major Commodities by Value
Western Australia's top six commodities 2016 graph

Mineral sector highlights

Mineral commodities dominate the industry accounting for 81 per cent, or $74.9 billion, of the total sales value.  Iron ore is by far the most valuable commodity accounting for 72 per cent of mineral sales and 57 per cent of overall sales.

Iron ore recorded sales of $54 billion in 2016, an increase of eight per cent.  This increase was the result of a 3 per cent increase in the quantity of iron ore sold, to reach over 762 million tonnes, and a 5 per cent rise in the price of iron ore year on year.

The gold sector accounted for 14 per cent of minerals produced in 2016 with sales of $10.6 billion. Volume was fairly steady at 195,544 kilograms, compared to 194,624 in 2015, but an increase of price meant that the value of the sector grew by ten per cent in 2016.

The gold sector also benefited from strong exploration expenditure during 2016.  It attracted 48 per cent (or $446 million) of Western Australia’s total mineral exploration spend.

Alumina was Western Australia’s third most valuable mineral commodity accounting for six per cent of mineral value. As the two producers of alumina in the State run their operations close to capacity there is little variation in volumes sold from year to year. However a fall in price in 2016 meant that the value of alumina sold dropped 13 per cent to $4.6 billion.

The 2016 value of alumina includes the trial shipment of raw bauxite exported from Western Australia by Alcoa.

The fourth most valuable mineral commodity was nickel, with three per cent of mineral sales.  The nickel sector has struggled in recent years with a consistent fall in price.  The closure of some nickel mines meant that sales volumes were down, leading to a 17 per cent fall in the value of the nickel sector to $2 billion.

The base metals (copper, lead and zinc) accounted for less than 2 per cent of the value of minerals sold in 2016. The overall value of base metals fell 11 per cent from $1.5 billion in 2015 to $1.3 billion in 2016.  The decline is largely attributed to the fall in value of copper which makes up the bulk (84 per cent) of base metals sales.  The average annual price of copper fell for the second consecutive year from $7,301.11 per tonne in 2015 to $6,538.11 per tonne in 2016.

The remaining minerals sales values comprised:

  • Mineral sands sales of $550 million (down 6 per cent);
  • Salt sales of $312 million (down 12 per cent);
  • Diamond sales of $277 million (down 21 per cent);
  • Coal sales of $329 million (down 4 per cent); and
  • Cobalt sales totalling $169 million (down 15 per cent).

Petroleum sector highlights

The petroleum sector decreased in terms industry value in 2016.  The sector, which includes crude oil, condensate, LNG, natural gas and LPG, was valued at $17.1 billion in 2016, a decrease of fourteen per cent on last year.

LNG remained the State’s most valuable petroleum product in 2016 accounting for 62 per cent of the value of the petroleum sector.  A 17 per cent increase in the volume of LNG sold in 2016 was not enough to compensate for falling prices, resulting in a decrease in its sales value to $10.7 billion in 2016.

The value of crude oil sales fell significantly (45 per cent) year on year as did the volume of sales which fell 30 per cent between 2015 and 2016.  Despite regaining some ground towards the end of 2015, global oil prices remain depressed, averaging 14.7 per cent lower in US dollar terms in 2016 compared with 2015.  This, together with production cuts, has led to the value of crude oil sales falling from $3.7 billion in 2015 to $2.1 billion in 2016.

Condensate prices also decreased, broadly in line with oil prices, but a smaller decrease in sales volumes (3 per cent) meant that the corresponding decrease in value was only 12 percent, from $2.5 billion in 2015 to $2.2 billion in 2016.

Domestic natural gas sales increased marginally to 10.1 billion cubic metres while the value of sales rose less than 3 per cent to reach $1.9 billion.

LPG (butane and propane) sales were up 15 per cent year-on-year with sales values increasing by a similar amount to reach $288 million.

For an overview of how Western Australia performed against key activity indicators, please see Review of mineral and petroleum activity indicators 2016.  The review covers employment, investment, exploration and royalty growth for 2016


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