AUSTRALIA’S resource and energy export earnings are forecast to reach a record $379 billion in 2021-22 according to recent data from the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources.  

December’s Resources and Energy Quarterly report highlighted a strong outlook for Australia’s mineral exports as the global economy recovers from the impact of the pandemic.  

The forecast export earnings figure follows last year’s record of $310 billion, equating to a 22% increase over the past financial year.

The report said the surge in export earnings is driven by high prices across several resource and energy commodities coupled with a weaker Australian dollar.

However, this figure is expected to fall back to around $311 billion in 2022-23.

While global recovery has been sustained by the ongoing rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, the report said full recovery has been inhibited in part by supply-chain disruptions, which contribute to upward price pressure.

Export commodities

Iron ore was among the most notable exports discussed in the Resources and Energy Quarterly, with Australian export volumes expected to grow steadily over next two years, from 867 million tonnes in 2020-21 to 920 million tonnes by 2022-23.

This reflects the commencement of several new mines in Western Australia.

However, iron ore prices have fallen to an 18-month low as of early December and are expected to decline further over the next two years, which will likely see Australia’s export earnings fall.

Australia’s LNG export earnings are expected to rebound strongly in 2021-22, with export volumes forecast to increase by 6.5% to 82 million tonnes as prices recover.

The increase is expected to bring export earnings from $30 billion in 2020-21 to $63 billion in 2021-22, as oil-linked contract prices surge.

In 2022-23, LNG export earnings are forecast to be $55 billion.

Australia’s metallurgical coal prices have reportedly lifted strongly in recent months, with exports forecast to rise from 171 million tonnes in 2020-21 to 181 million tonnes by 2022-23.

According to the report, metallurgical coal export values are forecast to surge with recent price movements, rebounding from $23 billion in 2020-21 to peak above $50 billion in 2021-22, before easing to $37 billion in 2022-23.

The nation’s gold exports are expected to reach a record $28 billion in 2021-22, and thermal coal export earnings have risen as the global economy recovers.

Copper prices have surged 2021 with Australia’s export volumes expected to rise slightly over the two-year outlook period.

Australia’s crude oil and feedstock exports in 2021-22 are forecast to increase by 11% to 306,000 barrels a day, with high oil prices expected to lift Australian oil export earnings by 69% to $12.6 billion in 2021-22.