Iron ore, coal drive exports higher

EARNINGS from Australia’s mineral exports are tipped to jump 17% year-on-year in 2011-2012 driven mainly by increased shipments and higher prices for iron ore, coal and gold, according to latest commodity forecasts.
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Courtesy QRC.

Staff Reporter

In the latest report released today by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, export earnings from metals and other minerals are forecast at $A130 billion in 2011-12.

The value of iron ore exports is expected to gain 16.7% year-on-year to $65.3 billion in 2011-12, while thermal coal and metallurgical coal are expected to rise 30.9% to $18.3 billion and 30.7% to $41.7 billion respectively.

“Over the next 18 months, iron ore and metallurgical coal prices are assumed to remain relatively high, reflecting strong growth in steel production in developing economies and the reconstruction of parts of Japan damaged by the March 2011 earthquakes and tsunami,” ABARES said.

The biggest percentage gain in export values minerals and energy exports is for gold, which is forecast to soar 33% to $18.1 billion in 2011-12 on the back of a strong gold price that is tipped to rise a further 3% to average $US1550 an ounce in 2012.

“Continued uncertainty about the ability of many developed economies to stimulate economic growth and control growing budget deficits is expected to encourage investment demand for gold as a lower risk, or safe haven, asset,” the report said.

“The emerging inflationary pressures in some developing countries, such as China and India, could also support demand for gold.”

Export earnings for copper are expected to gain 21.3% to $10.3 billion, zinc is forecast to grow by 9.8% to $3.1 billion and nickel by 6.5% to $4.5 billion.

Meantime, Australia’s uranium export earnings are expected to grow by 14.6% to $968 million in 2011-12 despite the ramifications from Japan’s nuclear incident, which is likely to significantly impact on future demand for uranium in that country.

The volume of mine production is forecast to rise by 10% in 2011-12, driven mainly by a 16% rise in metallurgical and thermal coal mining.

ABARES has forecast a 5% increase in mine production for metals and other minerals, driven mainly by a 6% increase in iron ore production.