Mining's great leap forward

DATA from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows the mining sector kept the nation going by powering the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic with record high exports of iron ore, gold and copper in 2020.
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Iron ore sustains the nation

Australia's miners exported minerals, metals and energy commodities worth $270 billion despite the challenges in 2020.

That sum accounted for 62% of total export revenue.

The sector employed 240,000 people directly and provided 1.1 million direct and indirect jobs in the mining and mining equipment, technology and services sector, to make a substantial contribution to investment, exports, wages, jobs and government revenue.

Thousands of regional businesses and local communities around Australia are also supported by mining.

Iron ore kept its crown as the king of minerals with $116 billion in exports, up 20% on 2019's tally of $96 billion.

Asia's large steel mills are still hungry for Western Australia's world class iron ore, with 2020's total breaking through the $100 billion export revenue ceiling for the first time in a boom calendar year.

In the last month of 2020 alone $12.6 billion in iron ore export revenue was received, which broke the previous record of $11.2 billion received in October.

Gold and copper exports were also up on the previous year following projects coming online and high prices.

Gold exports were up 12% in 2020, from $24.2 billion to $27.1 billion.

Copper exports were also up albeit slightly, by almost 2% from $10.2 billion to $10.4 billion.

Minerals Council of Australia CEO Tania Constable said the future was exciting with Australian iron ore exports with China expected to continue and new frontiers opening in South and East Asia.

"The iron ore industry is well positioned as a low-cost producer of world-class iron ore to supply Asia's high efficiency large steel mills," she said.