Soaring coal and gas prices will push Australia’s resources export earnings to a record high, new government figures reveal, reflecting the global energy supply crunch resulting from the pandemic and Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Australia is now projected to earn A$425bn (US$319bn) from its energy and resources exports in the 12 months to June 30, up 33 per cent on last year. That represents a 12 per cent increase on the last estimate published in January, before Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine.
Liquefied natural gas export earnings will more than double from last year, bringing in A$70bn. Thermal coal earnings will nearly triple from A$17bn to A$45bn, while metallurgical coal earnings will reach A$65bn, up from A$24bn.
The surge in earnings is driven almost entirely by price rises, with only modest increases in the volume of exports, the figures show.
The rocketing fossil fuel export earnings more than offset a drop in iron ore export earnings, which will fall from A$158bn last year to A$135bn this year. This was also driven entirely by falling prices. Together, iron ore, coal and gas made up 74 per cent of projected energy and resources export earnings.
Australia’s resources minister Keith Pitt said “critical global shortages” were behind the improved earnings. “[Our] resources sector is knocking it out of the park and underpinning our economic growth, our energy security and our national security,” he said.
Australia will hold a general election next month, and Pitt used the record coal and gas earnings as ammunition against the more climate-conscious left-of-centre parties running against the incumbent conservative Liberal-National government. He warned a Labor-Green coalition would not “fully support” the country’s fossil fuel export industry.