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 2019-20
Western Australia’s (WA) resources sector successfully navigated and continued operating throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to deliver sales valued at a record $172 billion in 2019-20.
This result was principally driven by:
- Iron ore sales valued at a record $103 billion on the back of the near record sales volumes and an eight-year price high.
- Gold sales reaching another all-time high of almost $16 billion supported by a record annual average Australian dollar gold price of more than $2,300 per ounce.
- Oil sales increasing to $2.6 billion, despite dramatic price falls across the first half of 2020, on higher output through the start-up of new projects and the return to production of others.
- Nickel sales recovering amid higher prices in the second half of 2019 to more than $3.1 billion, their highest level since 2014-15.
WA’s resources sector was also supported by a weaker Australian dollar (it was down by six per cent), amplifying higher prices received for some commodities and helping to offset price falls for others.
The mining of minerals continued to be the dominant activity in the State’s resources sector with $134 billion in sales, accounting for 78 per cent of all sales.
Iron ore was by far the most valuable mined commodity in WA. It accounted for 77 per cent of the value of all mineral sales and 60 per cent of all mineral and petroleum sales in 2019-20 (up from 74 per cent and 54 per cent respectively in 2018-19).
The iron ore sector achieved record sales valued at $103 billion in 2019-20, up by 26 per cent on the previous year. This was due to a combination of:
- Higher sales volumes of 836 million tonnes based on increased output from the major producers, ramp-up at Koolyanobbing and Sino Iron, and the restart of the Koolan Island project.
- Ongoing strength in iron ore prices driven principally by ongoing supply disruptions in Brazil following the failure of an upstream tailings dam and the impact of COVID-19 in the country.
Gold sales reached an all-time high of almost $16 billion, up by 32 per cent from 2018-19. This record was supported by a record annual average Australian dollar gold price of more than $2,300 per ounce.High prices were underpinned by the uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic, weak global economic growth, as well as trade and geopolitical tensions.The volume of gold sales from WA was stable.
Weaker prices amid a global market surplus and subdued demand meant that the value of alumina and bauxite sales declined by 22 per cent to $6.4 billion in 2019-20. The volume of alumina sales increased by three per cent, while bauxite sales were fairly stable.
The value of nickel sales increased to more than $3.1 billion – the industry’s highest level in four years.This was largely the result of a surge in prices to an eight-year-high in the second half of 2019 driven by a speculative drawdown on London Metal Exchange (LME) stocks leading up to and following the announcement of the Indonesian nickel ore export ban. This countered price falls throughout the first half of 2020 on rising LME stocks and demand concerns brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.The volume of nickel sales was fairly stable year-on-year.
Base metals sales were fairly stable at $1.6 billion with higher volumes of copper offsetting overall weaker prices due primarily to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on economic activity and demand.
Market conditions in the lithium sector were challenging with prices falling amid:
- Excess supplies as the ramp-up of lithium mines outpaced the development of chemical conversion capacity.
- Issues further down the supply chain including delays in the construction of battery mega factories and slowing demand for electric vehicles.
The quantity of sales also declined after producers shifted focus to producing volumes to meet customer demand, and the Bald Hill and Wodgina projects were put on care and maintenance. These factors saw the value of spodumene concentrate sales (including small volumes of direct shipping lithium ores) decline by 45 per cent to $917 million. This is the first time that the value of sales for spodumene concentrate have dropped below $1 billion since the beginning of the lithium boom in 2016-17.
The remaining minerals sales included:
- Mineral sands sales of $777 million (up 10 per cent)
- Salt sales of $375 million (up 24 per cent)
- Coal sales of $327 million (up two per cent)
- Cobalt sales of $293 million (down 12 per cent)
- Rare earths sales of $259 million (down 25 per cent)
- Diamond sales of $225 million (up two per cent).
The petroleum sector, which comprises crude oil, condensate, liquefied natural gas (LNG), natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), had sales valued at $37 billion in 2019-20, a decrease of four per cent from $39 billion in 2018-19.
The sector’s share of total mineral and petroleum sales also dropped to 22 per cent in 2019-20 from 26 per cent in 2018-19.
LNG remained the most valuable petroleum product produced in WA at $27 billion or 72 per cent of petroleum sales, followed by condensate at $5.7 billion (15 per cent) and oil at $2.6 billion (seven per cent).
The value of LNG and condensate sales declined (each down seven per cent), most dramatically in the June quarter 2020, as oil prices fell to their lowest level in 20 years from a combination of excess supply amid a price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia, and subdued global demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic and related economic shutdowns.
Despite weaker prices, LNG and condensate output reached record levels with more than 47 million tonnes of LNG (up eight per cent) and more than 14 million kilolitres (KL) of condensate (up 26 per cent) produced. This reflected projects including Wheatstone and Pluto operating at above nameplate capacity and first sales from Prelude FLNG (prior to its suspension in February 2020 due to electrical issues). It was also achieved despite the shutdown of Train 2 at Gorgon in May over safety concerns. Condensate production was also boosted by the ramp-up of the Ichthys project.1
While also negatively affected by lower prices, oil sales were up on account of a 63 per cent increase in production volumes to five million KL, a level last observed in 2016-17. Production was boosted by the start-up of the Greater Enfield project fields, the return to production of the Vincent field, as well as the ramp-up of the Pyreness project after an extended maintenance shutdown.
1 The majority of condensate from Ichthys is produced direct from the field via a Floating Production Storage and Offloading vessel. As such, it is included in WA figures.
For more information on Statistics Digest
For more information on the Annual Report