Is the wind back in the resources sail in WA?

resources figures

Figures released in March by the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety of Western Australia have highlighted an extremely strong 2018 in WA’s resource sector. Despite world-wide tensions which caused issues for commodity markets across the globe, the tension was not enough to create issues for WA’s resources industry. With record figures in both sales and jobs in the sector, is 2019 is shaping up to follow suit?

According to the state government, WA’s mineral and petroleum industry reported record sales of $127.4 billion in 2018. This completely eclipses the previous calendar year record value of $116 billion set in 2013 during the “boom” times and was greater than the financial year record of $123 billion set in 2013-14.

The increase of almost $18 billion (16%) was largely due to higher liquefied natural gas (LNG) volumes and prices. With an 81% increase in LNG sales in 2018, meant that the sector on its own contributed $12-billion in total mineral and petroleum sales. Volumes of LNG also increased by 34% which set a new record of 43.7million tonnes.

Figures released by the department also highlighted that gold sales volumes increased for the third year in a row to reach 212 tonnes in 2018, their highest level since 1998.
Iron ore sales were valued at $64 billion in 2018, just slightly up on last year.
The alumina and bauxite sector increased to $7.9 billion (35%) in 2018 on the back of stronger prices. Overall sales volumes increased more than 2% year–on–year.

WA’s nickel sector has struggled in recent years, with figures from 2018 no different with total sales lower again.
The remaining minerals sales values comprised:
• Base metal sales of $1.6 billion (up 1%)
• Coal sales of $327 million (down 3%)
• Cobalt sales of $507 million (up 33%)
• Diamond sales of $259 million (down 3%)
• Mineral sands sales of $432 million (up 25%)
• Salt sales of $304 million (up 11%)
• Spodumene sales of $1.6 billion (up 34%).

Workers employed in WA’s resources industry continues to rise with the average number of workers in the WA minerals sector at 120,437 in 2018, an increase from 111,000 in 2017 highlighting a growth trend for employment within the sector.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that almost $18 billion was invested in WA’s mining industry in 2018, representing around 52% of the nation’s expenditure. Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston has confirmed also that “The State has about $113 billion of resource projects in the pipeline.”

With the strong and promising results from 2018, and the strong project pipeline value, is WA going to see growth again in 2019 and beyond?

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