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Commodity exports are forecast to reach a new record high in 2018–19

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2 October 2018

The September 2018 edition of the Resources and Energy Quarterly (REQ) was released today by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science. The report shows Australia’s resource and energy exports are on track to set a record high of $252 billion in 2018–19.

Trends

Export values are being underpinned by a weaker Australian dollar and strong prices for several key commodities. A robust steel market in China boosted iron ore demand during the September quarter, particularly for the higher ore grades. Stronger steel production also stabilised metallurgical coal prices after a fall in the June quarter. Thermal coal prices were stable over the September quarter, on the back of strong demand from China. However, prices for base metals lost ground amidst US-China trade tensions.

Looking forward

Looking out to 2019–20, growing bulk commodity supply and easing prices are expected to lead to a modest decline in commodity earnings to $238 billion. Solid demand for high energy Australian thermal coal is expected to persist in the near-term as China tries to limit air pollution and restricts imports of low energy coal. Oil prices are likely to lift as the US prepares to reimpose sanctions on Iran and as Venezuelan oil production declines. Prices for lower grades of coal and iron ore likely to continue to decline, but other metals such as copper are expected to see a price rebound as market fundamentals re-assert themselves.

The emerging lithium market

This edition includes a special analysis on lithium. It considers the global lithium market, current and prospective Australian lithium mine and refinery projects, and the role the commodity is likely to play in the future. Australia is currently the largest producer of lithium, in a market that is projected to grow six-fold out to 2027 to meet global demand for batteries in electric vehicles. There are significant opportunities for Australia in this growing market, both production and refining.

For more information and to access the report, visit www.industry.gov.au/req.

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