Find Mining expertise in Australia
Significant minerals found in Australia include aluminium, coal, copper, diamonds, gold, iron, nickel, oil and gas, silver, tin, titanium, uranium and zinc. Export earnings from minerals totalled $146 billion in 2012–13.
Mining contributes nearly 8% of the GDP, with Australia being the largest exporter of coal, iron, diamonds lead, opal and zinc, and the second largest for gold and uranium (2008). The country has the world’s largest reserves of lead, nickel, uranium and zinc.
The mining sector has expanded year-on-year driven primarily by huge demand for raw materials from China and other parts of Asia. Australia is home to the largest mining companies in the world – BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, first and third respectively. BHP Billiton, which is the largest company in the country overall, has a 140 year-old history in Australia dating back to a silver, lead and zinc mine in Broken Hill in New South Wales.
Thermal coal production expanded by 11% in 2012–13, while metallurgical coal production saw growth of eight per cent in the same period. Iron ore production increased by more than 10% in 2012, while production of aluminium fell 8% in 2012–13, mainly due to the closure of the Kurri Kurri smelter in New South Wales.
Copper mine production increased by 4% in 2012–13, due to both new operations and growing production at established operations. Gold mine production was stable at 254 tonnes in 2012–13, but gold production in Australia remains well below the levels recorded in the late 1990s, partly due to falling prices.
According to figures compiled by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 254,000 people were directly employed in the minerals sector in November 2013. Employment figures are growing due to a rise in demand in the coal and metal ore mining sectors.
Individual states and territories have their own divisions that govern extractives, such as the Department of Mining and Petroleum in Western Australia and the Department of Mines and Energy in the Northern Territory. The federal government’s division dealing with extractives is the Department of Industry.
The National Mine Safety Framework (NMSF) is an initiative of the Standing Council on Energy and Resource, which aims for a nationally consistent occupational health and safety regime in the Australian mining industry.
The Minerals Council of Australia is the industry body of Australia’s exploration, mining and minerals processing industry.
Australia is not currently EITI compliant, but the government supports the organisation and has committed funding to it, as well as participating in board discussions. In October 2011 Australia announced that it would undertake a domestic pilot to test the applicability of EITI rules and principles to Australian conditions, but results are yet to be released.
Hard rock, gravel and sand are quarried in Australia, mainly for use in the construction industry. The Western Australian Department of Mines and Petroleum called for expressions of interest in a new sand and limestone quarry in July 2014 in the Myalup State Forest, 149 km southwest of Perth.