West best again

WESTERN Australia’s resources sector achieved record sales of $246 billion in 2022 and delivered more jobs than ever before.
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WA in bloom

WA mines minister Bill Johnston said he was running out of superlatives to describe the latest record-breaking results that came on the back of "yet another exceptional performance".

According to annual data for 2022 released by the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety, resources sales were up $15 billion on the previous calendar year high of $231 billion in 2021.

The industry also provided a record 117,970 full-time equivalent jobs in the 2021-22 financial year.

Iron ore sales of $126 billion were down on previous years, however, they still accounted for 51% of total mineral and petroleum sales.

Record production of 855 million tonnes included record shipments from Hancock Prospecting and Fortescue Metals Group.

Gold maintained its shine with record sales of $17.8 billion from the highest level of production since the mid-1990s, amid record Australian dollar prices.

There was 6.9 million ounces of gold sold from WA projects.

Spodumene was also on a tear with sales of $16.3 billion, six times the amount recorded in 2021.

The higher spodumene volumes of 2.68Mt were due to a ramp-up of expansions at Talison Lithium's Greenbushes, the ramp-up of the Ngungaju plant at Pilbara Minerals Pilgangoora, first concentrates and ramp-up at Mineral Resources' and Albemarle's Wodgina and improved mining capacity and processing rates at Galaxy's Mt Cattlin.

Nickel sales of $5.7 billion were the highest in 15 years, largely on the back of a massive rise in the nickel price during 2022.

Local sales tonnages increased from Glencore's Murrin Murrin after plant maintenance in 2021, combined with the ramp-up of the Shoemaker-Levy deposit at First Quantum Minerals' Ravensthorpe and Panoramic Resources' Savannah project in the Kimberley also contributing to the increase.

On the flip side, IGO's production was down after a fire at Nova's diesel power station in December, while Nickel West was affected by smelter maintenance.

The value of alumina sales increased, to $6.9 billion despite a fall in sales units.

Alcoa was affected by lower bauxite grade, unplanned outages and maintenance events, while South32 was affected by planned calciner maintenance in the second half of the year.

No bauxite was shipped in 2022.

Copper sales were down at $1.6 billion, due to falling prices.

Sales volumes were also down due to the approaching end-of-life of Sandfire's Degrussa mine.

Other mineral sales included mineral sands sales of $1.3 billion, rare earths sales of $797 million, salt sales of $625 million and a record $528 million sales of cobalt.

Johnston said it was great to see more employment in the resources sector than ever before.

"Investment in the sector and project construction will continue to deliver benefits to local communities and underpin economic growth in regional WA for years to come," he said.

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