Main content area

Australia has established strong and long-running partnerships with key trading and investment partners across the globe.

We have a proven track-record as a reliable supplier of resources over many decades.

Figure shows Australia's major resources and energy export markets with values in 2019-20 as India ($9 billion), Taiwan ($10 billion), South Korea $21 billion), Japan ($46 billion) and China ($127 billion) in acending order.

Major markets for Australia’s resources and energy exports in 2019-20. Source: Resources and Energy Quarterly, March 2021.

The government is ambitiously committed to building on existing trade agreements and relationships with emerging partners to enhance investment and trade opportunities.

We also keep working to ensure that Australia has a competitive business environment and regulatory frameworks. These frameworks maintain our position as a leading investment destination.

All Australian jurisdictions seek to streamline business settings that are inefficient, particularly where they cut across more than one level of government.16

Australia seeks to expand and diversify its markets for resources, including for critical minerals, in the Indo-Pacific region and globally.

To help Australia’s resources companies, especially mid-tier companies, turn this opportunity into success, the government will undertake comprehensive market analysis of the region’s opportunities and how Australia can meet them.

Secure resources supplier

Energy security is a major concern for many economies as access to secure and affordable energy increases.

Australia is well positioned to support countries seeking to achieve energy security, by being a reliable investment destination and supplier.

Australia’s resources sector has proven resilient during times of crisis and economic downturn, with resources exports remaining reliable during the COVID-19 pandemic and associated economic disruptions.

All Australian governments and industry peak bodies, including the Minerals Council of Australia, state resources chambers, and the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association, worked together to develop a National COVID-19 response protocol for the sector, to manage key operational, health, and safety issues.

In spite of global challenges related to the pandemic, and disrupted operations across the globe, Australia’s resources and energy export values are expected to rise to a record all-time high in 2020‑2021 of A$296 billion. This increase follows growing trade volumes and strengthening prices.

Australia’s resources sector is likely to capture the growth benefits in demand for new and low emissions technologies.17

Technologically advanced resources sector

Australia is one of the most creative countries in the world.

Overall spending on research and development (R&D) has grown by 7% per year since 2001.

Business is the driving force, with commercial R&D rising almost 2 percentage points faster than Australia’s GDP.18 

In 20 out of 22 fields of academic research, Australia’s research publications achieve an impact that is at least 20% above the global average.

Australia’s ten strongest categories of published research are:

  • space sciences
  • physics
  • computer science
  • clinical medicine
  • multidisciplinary areas
  • engineering
  • molecular biology and genetics
  • materials science
  • environmen and ecology
  • plant and animal science. 

These categories neatly reflect Australia’s diverse research capability and economic strengths.

To provide strategic support and investment confidence to the sector, the government has developed the Resources Technology and Critical Minerals Processing National Manufacturing Priority road map

The road map aims for Australia to become a global centre for commercialising and manufacturing cutting-edge technology products for the resources sector.

Australia’s resources sector is supported by its advanced Mining Equipment, Technology and Services (METS) industry, which is an important economic driver and underpins the international competitiveness of Australia’s resources sector.

There are approximately 6,000 Australian companies which directly serve the mining sector, and many more technology vendors that do not identify as METS.

The METS sector is a strong regional employer, estimated at directly employing over 300,000 people and METS exports are estimated to be worth approximately A$15 billion annually to the Australian economy.19

METS capability and development as a globally competitive sector is a priority for Australia.

The government supports METS companies through METS Ignited. METS Ignited works with Australian mining industry suppliers, global miners, researchers and capital providers to improve competitiveness and productivity of the sector.

The METS industry was identified in the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper as a priority export sector and is also a key area of focus in Australia’s Services Exports Action Plan (2021).20 This was developed to enhance the international competitiveness of Australia’s services sector.

National Energy Resources Australia (NERA) was established in 2016 to maximise value to the Australian economy by developing an energy resources sector that is globally competitive, sustainable, innovative and diverse.

NERA is engaged across the value chain to achieve significant industry efficiencies. identify and support digital, automation and other innovative technologies; develop future workforce skills; and ensure that there are regulatory frameworks that support future investment, innovation, productivity and global trade.

Australian resources companies collaborate with research organisations to remain competitive.

Mining3 (previously the Cooperative Research Centre for Mining Technology and Equipment), Newcrest Mining, Rio Tinto, and Elexon have collaborated to create the Cave Tracker system.21 

The Cave Tracker System improves exploration productivity and safety through detecting the formation of air gaps and managing them before they pose a threat, and shortens time frames by increasing the efficiency of cave mapping.

Highly skilled workforce

The National Resource Workforce Strategy, released in 2021, links a range of programs being led across government, the resources sector, and education providers to equip workers with the diverse and complex emerging skills required by new advanced technologies, ensuring the sector continues to grow and modernise.22 

In Australia, technologies such as robotics, automation, GPS technologies and big data, are being incorporated throughout resources project lifecycles and across the METS sector.

The government’s support for the training of the resource sector’s workforce ensures that environmental management and the health and safety of workers can be improved while the efficiency and productivity of resource projects are increased.

For example, remote operating centres offsite from mining projects increase worker safety, as they provide direct connectivity to mines without the need to be on site.

The government and community expectations hold industry to the highest safety standards. Safety is critical in maintaining effective and reliable operations, as well as supporting workers and communities, and attracting new employees.

Image of six icons identifying Australia's credentials in innovation. Source is Austrade Benchmark Report on Innovation and Skills. Australia is ranked 1s for technical readiness; is in the to 1% of worlds scientific institutions; ranked 3rd for number of universities in world top 100; About 44% of Australian Companies are 'innovation-active'; ranked 6th for global entrepreneurship and around 47% of our workforce has a tertiary qualification.

Australia’s Innovation Credentials. Source: Austrade, Why invest in Australia-Innovation and Skills.

Footnotes