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 review 2019
In 2019, Western Australia’s (WA) resources sector achieved record sales of 167.3 billion.
This was up by 28 per cent from $130.3 billion 2018 and was principally driven by:
- Iron ore sales reaching a record $97.7 billion, supported by a dramatic rise in prices and despite a small fall in sales volumes from the previous year.
- The value of condensate production increasing to $7.4 billion as production volumes continued to grow (by 57 per cent) with the ramp-up of recently commissioned LNG projects.
- Gold sales reaching an all-time high of $13.8 billion on the back of a record annual average Australian dollar gold price of more than $2,000 per ounce and an increase in volumes to their highest level in more than two decades.
- Nickel sales recovering amid higher prices to more than $3.1 billion, their highest level in five years 2014.
WA’s resources sector was also supported by weakness in the Australian dollar (it was down by 7 per cent) which amplified higher prices received for some commodities and helped to offset price falls for others.
On the back of this performance, WA remained one of the world’s top contributors to global commodity supplies. It was the world’s largest supplier of iron ore and lithium, the second largest supplier of LNG, and was amongst the top five jurisdictions for the production of gold, alumina, diamonds, rare earths, and salt. The State was also in the top ten for nickel output and was a major supplier of mineral sands products include garnet, ilmenite and zircon.
The mining of minerals continued to be the dominant activity in the State’s resources sector, accounting for 76 per cent or $127.9 billion of total sales.
Iron ore was by far the most valuable mined commodity in WA. It accounted for 76 per cent of mineral sales from WA.
The WA iron ore sector reached record sales valued at $97.7 billion in 2019, up by 50 per cent on the previous year. This was due to improved iron ore prices throughout the first half of 2019 driven by a series of global supply shocks, most notably after the failure of an upstream tailings dam in Brazil. The record sales was achieved despite a small fall in the volume of iron ore sold from 814 million tonnes (Mt) to 810 Mt due to Tropical Cyclone Veronica and operational issues.
Gold sales reached an all-time high of $13.8 billion, up 20 per cent from 2018. This record was achieved on the back of a record annual average Australian dollar gold price of more than $2,000 per ounce that was supported by investment demand amid weak global economic growth as well as trade and geopolitical tensions. The volume of gold sales from WA was also up to its highest level in more than 20 years.
The volume of alumina sales increased by 4 per cent, while bauxite sales increased by 26 per cent albeit from a low base. However, weaker prices across 2019 amid a global market surplus meant that the value of the sector declined by 7 per cent to $7.4 billion in 2019 from $7.9 billion in 2018.
The value of nickel sales from WA recovered to more than $3.1 billion – the industry’s highest level in half a decade. A mid-year surge in prices to an eight-year-high, amid a squeeze on global supplies leading up to and coinciding with the announcement of the Indonesian nickel ore export ban, was the principal reason for this result. Increased output (up by 3 percent) also played a role, with 2019 marking the first calendar year growth in the volume of nickel sales since 2012.
Base metals sales were up by 2 per cent to $1.7 billion on greater volumes of copper and zinc while prices were fairly flat on an annualised basis with a weaker Australian dollar largely offsetting price falls due to largely unresolved US-China trade tensions.
The WA lithium sector experienced challenging market conditions with prices weakening as the ramp-up of lithium mines outpaced the development of chemical conversion capacity and the demand for electric vehicles slowed. The downturn in lithium markets saw one WA lithium producer enter administration (Alita Resources) and several more implement production curtailments. As a result, in 2019, the value of spodumene concentrate sales (including converted direct shipping ore) was down by 28 per cent to $1.3 billion, while the volume of sales was down by 18 per cent to 1.6 Mt.
The remaining minerals sales included:
- Mineral sands sales of $669 million (up 6 per cent)
- Coal sales of $323 million (down 1 per cent)
- Salt sales of $334 million (up by 10 per cent)
- Cobalt sales of $259 million (down 48 per cent).
Petroleum sales, which comprises crude oil, condensate, LNG, natural gas and LPG, accounted for 24 per cent of the total value of WA’s total mineral and petroleum sales in 2019.
The sector was valued at $39.5 billion in 2019, an increase of 9 per cent from $36.4 billion in 2018.
LNG remains WA’s most valuable petroleum product at $27.4 billion, or 69 per cent of the value of all petroleum production in 2019. Its value of sales increased only marginally as prices were fairly flat, while the quantity of LNG production was up only slightly with operational outages (including from Tropical Cyclone Veronica in March), and maintenance shutdowns throughout the year offsetting the start of production from the Prelude FLNG project.
Condensate production increased almost 57 per cent to 13.8 gigalitres (GL) in 2019, to deliver a 41 per cent increase in the value of production to $7.4 billion despite weaker prices.
Crude oil volumes increased by 26 per cent to 4.6 GL following the start-up of the Greater Enfield project fields and return to production of the Vincent field, the completion of the Van Gogh infill project, as well as the re-start of the Pyreness project after an extended maintenance shutdown in 2018. Increased output was offset somewhat by lower prices to deliver a 23 per cent increase in the value of sales to $2.7 billion.
For an overview of how Western Australia performed against key activity indicators, please see the mineral and petroleum activity review 2019. The review covers employment, investment, and exploration activity, as well as royalty receipts for 2019.
For more information on Statistics Digest
For more information on the Annual Report