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Australia Resource Investing 101

If you’re curious about the Australia investing buzz that’s been happening in recent years, we’ve got a quick summary of how it started and where it’s going.

If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve seen some of the recent buzz around Australia as a destination for resource investment and potential profit.

Australia ranks as the 13th largest economy in the world, due in no small part to its mineral largess. Between 2010 and 2020, mining contributed an impressive 10.4 percent to Australia’s economy, translating to a gross domestic product of AU$202 billion.

The country is a global mining hotspot, and its abundant natural resources and government incentives have attracted some of the mining industry’s biggest names: BHP (ASX:BHP,LSE:BHP,NYSE:BHP), Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO,LSE:RIO,NYSE:RIO) and Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM,OTC Pink:NCMGF).


Nearly half of the companies trading on the Sydney-based Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) — the primary stock exchange in Australia — are listed in the basic materials and energy sectors.

The state of Western Australia is one of the world’s premiere mining jurisdictions, coming in fourth after Nevada, Arizona and Saskatchewan. According to the Fraser Institute’s Annual Survey of Mining Companies 2020, three other Australian states and territories rank in the top 20 mining jurisdictions in the world: South Australia (seventh), Queensland (16th) and the Northern Territory (19th).

Australia has been a plentiful provider of diverse commodities in the resource investment space for over a century; if you’re curious about exploring it for yourself, here’s a quick guide on the origins of the country’s resource industry, the current landscape for mining investment and future opportunities.

Australia investing: The beginning

European settlers first arrived in Australia in the 1780s, and by the 1790s whale oil and baleen (whalebone) had become the colony’s first major exports.

When the 1820s rolled around, the economy grew exponentially through fine wool production. By the 1830s, wool had overtaken whale oil as the colony’s biggest export, with New South Wales replacing Germany as Britain’s primary supplier by 1850.

1851 saw the beginning of a major gold rush in Australia, causing the area’s population to surge from 430,000 to a whopping 1.7 million by 1871. In 1901, Australia’s first federal government was formed, and for the next 30 years, agricultural goods remained one of the country’s biggest exports, with wheat and dairy products being added to the roster.

The UK was Australia’s biggest export destination by the early 1960s, but it had begun to enhance its relationship with its European neighbours. At the same time, Australia was working to strengthen its ties with Asia, and by 1966/1967 Japan had become the country’s biggest export destination.

While Australia’s economic roots were formed in the agricultural sector, the 1970s brought a surge of mineral and fuel exports, driven specifically by iron ore and coal.

Fast forward to 2013/2014, and iron ore, coal and natural gas had become the country’s top three exports, with rural commodities falling to the wayside.

During this transitional period, Australia’s trading relationship with the UK further waned as Japan and China became the country’s two primary export destinations. China eventually overtook Japan as Australia’s leading export partner in 2009/2010, and according to a report from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the UK made up only 1.4 percent of Australia’s exports by 2013/2014.

Australia investing: Current opportunities

Today, Australia’s mining industry is comprised of more than 350 mines and the production of 19 different mineral commodities. Gold mines are the most common operations, and according to the US Geological Survey, the country is the world’s second largest gold producer.

While Australia’s major gold rush took place over a century and a half ago, current industry trends show that there is still much to be explored, discovered and put towards modern-day industries and technologies. You can find a number of gold investment opportunities to consider in the Investing News Network’s (INN) Best Gold Stocks on the ASX article.

Along with precious metals, Australia’s most valuable mineral exports include base metals, battery metals and energy resources. The country leads the world in iron ore production, and is also an important source of global aluminium, nickel and copper supply.

Western Australia is a key nickel-mining jurisdiction within Australia, and accounts for 90 percent of the country’s economic reserves of the metal. BHP and Glencore (LSE:GLEN,OTC Pink:GLCNF) both have nickel-mining operations in the state. Other important nickel stocks for investors to watch include IGO (ASX:IGO) and Mincor Resources (ASX:MCR,OTC Pink:MCRZF). Those interested in learning more about nickel opportunities should check out INN’s article Nickel Stocks in Western Australia.

Australia is second only to Chile when it comes to copper reserves, and the red metal reigns supreme in the South Australia, which is home to the world’s fourth largest copper-producing mine, BHP’s Olympic Dam. Other nickel operations in South Australia are OZ Minerals’ (ASX:OZL,OTC Pink:OZMLF) Prominent Hill and Carapateena mines. INN’s Copper Stocks in South Australia and Copper in Australia articles offer investors further insight on what to know about the base metal in the country.

Aside from that, Australia is abundant in energy resources such natural gas and uranium. With more than a dozen basins that yield natural gas, Australia hosts significant natural gas reserves. Natural gas is the country’s third most valuable resource export, as per the most recent data from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, earning more than AU$49 billion for the economy. Chevron (NYSE:CVX) and Shell (LSE:RDSA,LSE:RDSB,NYSE:RDS.A,NYSE:RDS.B) are the biggest natural gas producers in the country.

Uranium is another important sector in Australia’s resource industry. The country is the third largest uranium producer globally and hosts more than one-quarter of the world’s known uranium resources. Both of the country’s two producing uranium mines are in South Australia: BHP’s Olympic Dam mine, the largest-known uranium deposit in the world, and the Four Mile mine, owned by Quasar Resources.

In recent years, Australia has also come to dominate the global lithium industry and is well positioned to capitalise on the rapidly growing electric vehicle market. Increased demand for lithium has proved positive for ASX-listed lithium stocks. The nation ranks second in the world for lithium reserves behind Chile, but when it comes to annual lithium production Australia’s output is more than twice as high.

Australia’s largest lithium mine is Greenbushes, which is majority controlled by China’s Tianqi Lithium (SZSE:002466), the largest hard-rock lithium miner in the world. Tianqi owns a 51 percent stake in Talison Lithium, which operates the mine, while major producer Albemarle (NYSE:ALB) owns a 49 percent stake in Talison via its acquisition of Rockwood Holdings.

Rare earths are another important commodity segment for technology, and Australia is set up to take advantage of opportunities in this market too. The country holds the sixth largest-known rare earths reserves in the world, and rare earths production in Australia has been rising over the last few years.

Northern Minerals (ASX:NTU) opened Australia’s first heavy rare earths mine in 2018, producing heavy rare earths products such as dysprosium, which is used in permanent magnet technology. Lynas (ASX:LYC,OTC Pink:LYSCF) operates the Mount Weld mine and concentration plant in Western Australia, and the company recently announced plans to boost production to 10,500 tonnes per year of neodymium-praseodymium products by 2025.

Other rare earths projects in the country include Australian Strategic Metals’ (ASX:ASM) Dubbo project in Central New South Wales, Arafura Resources’ (ASX:ARU,OTC Pink:ARAFF) Nolans project in the Northern Territory as well as Hastings Technology Metals’ (ASX:HAS) Yangibana project in Western Australia.

Australia investing: Investor takeaway

Australia’s abundant natural resources, close proximity to export partners, top-notch mining jurisdictions and plethora of publicly traded mining companies together put the country in a unique position to be a leader in the global economy of the 21st century. Investors with an eye on lucrative opportunities in the resource sector would do well to consider Australian mining stocks and further educate themselves about the Australian mining outlook.

As a resource-intensive economy, the Australian dollar moves with the commodities the country exports. Those who play the Australian market should have an understanding of how the Australian dollar impacts miners and look to where the Australian to US dollar conversion rate is trending.

This is an updated version of an article first published by the Investing News Network in 2018.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Resource for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Melissa Pistilli, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

Featured

The mining and resources sector now sets its sights on Australia’s largest mining investment forum, Mines and Money @ IMARC, co-located with IMARC from January 31, 2022, to February 2, 2022, at the Melbourne Showgrounds.

It was gold price, lithium demand and China’s appetite for copper that dominated much of the discussion at Mines and Money Online Connect @ IMARC this week at the virtual event running from the 19th to the 21st October.

Mines and Money Online Connect saw 90 mining companies, 600+ investors and more than 2,000 participants log-on to hear mining executives and analysts discuss the next big thing for savvy investors in 2022.

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Rio Tinto Iron Ore Chief Executive, Simon Trott and Rio Tinto Managing Director of Port, Rail and Core Services, Richard Cohen, joined community members, local businesses and representatives from local government to celebrate the official opening of its new community ‘Hub’ in Karratha. Located on Ngarluma country in the heart of Karratha’s CBD, the new Rio Tinto Karratha Hub will make it easier for local …

Rio Tinto Iron Ore Chief Executive, Simon Trott and Rio Tinto Managing Director of Port, Rail and Core Services, Richard Cohen, joined community members, local businesses and representatives from local government to celebrate the official opening of its new community ‘Hub’ in Karratha.

Located on Ngarluma country in the heart of Karratha’s CBD, the new Rio Tinto Karratha Hub will make it easier for local people to connect with our busines.

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Rio Tinto is progressing an innovative new technology to deliver low-carbon steel, using sustainable biomass in place of coking coal in the steelmaking process, in a potentially cost-effective option to cut industry carbon emissions. Over the past decade, Rio Tinto has developed a laboratory-proven process that combines the use of raw, sustainable biomass with microwave technology to convert iron ore to metallic …

Rio Tinto is progressing an innovative new technology to deliver low-carbon steel, using sustainable biomass in place of coking coal in the steelmaking process, in a potentially cost-effective option to cut industry carbon emissions.

Over the past decade, Rio Tinto has developed a laboratory-proven process that combines the use of raw, sustainable biomass with microwave technology to convert iron ore to metallic iron during the steelmaking process. The patent-pending process, one of a number of avenues the company is pursuing to try to lower emissions in the steel value chain, is now being further tested in a small-scale pilot plant.

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Sydney Opera House at night

Robotics is an area of investing that is growing in Australia ― but is it a sector worth investing in?

The global robotics industry is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 7.8 percent through 2028 according to the Global Industrial Robotics Market Analysis 2020. Robotics is an area of investing that is growing in Australia ― but is it a sector worth investing in?

Broadly speaking, robotics is the design and construction of robots. This can include core automation and production, industrial software, robot technology and integration of robotics. From drones to self-driving cars to toys ― robotics is a growing industry that is beginning to permeate our daily lives.


The distinction between robotics and AI can be a little confusing, but essentially think of robotics like the body and AI like the brain. Both can exist separately, and they are powerful when combined. The goal of a robot is to complete a task faster and more efficiently than a human.

What does the market look like?

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen technology sectors such as robotics accelerate as businesses have faced global challenges. Robotics has been able to help keep spaces safer by replacing humans with robots on factory lines, in eCommerce warehouses or on healthcare frontlines taking temperatures or disinfecting spaces.

What is Australia doing to support the robotics sector?

In early 2020, the Robotics Australia Network was formed to accelerate growth of the domestic robotics industry. The network aims to strengthen global competitiveness and cement Australia as a global leader in robotics.

How does the Australian robotics sector stack up?

According to the International Federation of Robotics, in a ranking of the world's most automated countries it's not even in the top 10. Number one is Singapore, followed by South Korea then Japan.

The investment space for pure robotics companies is relatively small, with greater opportunities to invest in more broader technology, AI and automation stocks.

Who are the big players in robotics stocks?

Robotics stocks in Australia are companies with a strong crossover to other technology sectors like artificial intelligence and virtual reality.

Vection Technologies (ASX:VR1)
Market Cap AU$77.56 million

Vection is a multinational software company with offices in Western Australia as well as Subiaco and Casalecchio di Reno in Italy. The company uses robotics technology as well as 3D, virtual reality, augmented reality, industrial IoT and CAD solutions. The business is split into two sections: IT development and outsourced services. The company also collaborates with Autodesk Technology Centers, the Microsoft Mixed Reality Team and Cisco Systems Italy.

Bill Identity (ASX:BID)

Market Cap AU$52.97 million

Previously known as BidEnergy, Bill Identity is a series of bill management solutions leveraged using robotic process automation, which helps clients increase efficiency. The company serves customers across Australia, New Zealand, the UK, the US and Europe. Bill Identity had a strong year, with total operating revenue growth of 55 percent year-on-year to US$14.6M in FY21.

What are the other ways to invest in robotics?

Another way to get into the robotics sector is investing in robotics exchange traded funds (ETFs), a popular choice that offers exposure to the industry of robotics and artificial intelligence rather than a single company. Two major ETFs in the robotics sector are:

  • BetaShares Global Robotics and Artificial Intelligence ETF (ASX:RBTZ)
  • The ROBO Global Robotics and Automation ETF (ARCA:ROBO)

Don't forget to follow us @INN_Australia for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Ronelle Richards, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

parliament house in the evening. canberra, australia

Cannabis remains a hot-button issue in Australia, and the country's political parties have diverse opinions. Here's a look at what they think.

Cannabis reform at a national level still seems far off for Australians, but what do each of the country's major political parties think about the drug?

At the time of publication, the Australian federal parliament had members in the House of Representatives from nine political parties, and senators from nine political parties as well.

Let's look at what Australia's four major political parties think about cannabis, followed by a brief overview of the minor parties in power. We'll also run through the cannabis-specific political parties not currently elected.


Australian Liberal Party

The Australian Liberal Party is in power right now, and it has a conservative view on drug policy, including cannabis, which it believes should remain on the illicit and illegal drug list. The party also has policies around deporting drug dealers. Although it has endorsed research on medicinal cannabis through the Therapeutics Goods Association (TGA), it has since removed all references and specific policies regarding cannabis from its platform.

Current Health Minister Greg Hunt has expressed concern over the Australian Capital Territory's decision to legalise cannabis given that it directly conflicts with federal law. He previously told ABC Radio Melbourne that cannabis presents a "significant mental health risk."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has joked that he "won't be partaking" in cannabis. He was also unmoved by activists from the Who Are We Hurting campaign who delivered a pound of weed to Kirribilli House on April 20, 2020, and then brought AU$420,000 in crisp green AU$100 bills to Parliament House on the same date in 2021.

Australian Labour Party

The stance from the Australian Labour Party is in support of medicinal cannabis only. Similar to the Australian Liberal Party, there is no public policy mention of cannabis or marijuana in the Australian Labour Party's mandate.

State members in Queensland and New South Wales have publicly called for the decriminalisation of cannabis, with some going so far as to call for legalisation; however, at this stage the official party line isn't pushing for legalising.

The Nationals

Running on a platform that focuses on rural Australian communities and agriculture, the Nationals often rely on more conservative policies. As part of a coalition government with the Australian Liberal Party, the party line for the Nationals is thought to be aligned as "no" to decriminalisation and "no" to legalisation, but "yes" to medicinal cannabis that is heavily regulated through the TGA.

Australian Greens

The Australian Greens have been proudly (and loudly) lobbying for cannabis legalisation for many years as a major policy. The current party line is to legalise the production, sale and use of cannabis and cannabis products for recreational use, whilst regulating growth and possession for personal and medicinal use.

Minor parties in the House of Representatives

  • Centre Alliance — Member of Parliament Rebekha Sharkie spoke in support of a medicinal cannabis bill in February 2021 and believes medicinal cannabis should be included in the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
  • Independent — There are no public policies available for members of parliament Helen Haines, Zali Steggall or Andrew Wilkie, although Wilkie was the major push behind legalising hemp as a material and food source in Australia.
  • Katter's Australia Party — Bob Katter is not pro-legalisation, and joked in parliament, "I didn't know marijuana was legal in Canberra and I can now understand why the country has gone to pot."
  • Liberal Party of Queensland — No public policy; presumed to be the same as the Australian Liberal Party and Nationals as they are a coalition.
  • United Australia Party — The party wants a standard on synthetic dangerous drugs, including cannabis.

Minor parties in the Senate

  • Centre Alliance — Senator Stirling Griff voted against expanding medicinal cannabis in 2017. No public policy on record.
  • Country Liberal Party — The party has no public policy on record.
  • Independent — Senator Rex Patrick voted strongly in favour of increased access to medicinal cannabis, but has previously stated that decriminalising cannabis "requires considerable thought and analysis."
  • Jacqui Lambert Network — The party has policies to address the problems facing everyday Tasmanians in accessing medicinal cannabis, and believes it should be a doctor/patient issue and not a political/bureaucratic issue.
  • Pauline Hanson's One Nation — The party has stated, "One Nation upholds the right of Australians to access medical cannabis, that may give them quality of life and life itself." However, it has a history of blocking motions like the 2017 bid to fast-track medicinal cannabis for the terminally ill.

Pro-cannabis parties in Australian politics

There are several smaller pro-cannabis parties; of particular note is the Legalise Cannabis Australia Party. It was first founded as Help End Marijuana Prohibition (known by its clever and catchy acronym HEMP) in 1993 by Nigel Quinlan, who ran under the candidate name Nigel Freemarijuana.

The group, which changed its name to Legalise Cannabis Australia in September 2021, has a number of policies around legalising and regulating cannabis for personal use, industrial use and medicinal use.

A subgroup of Legalise Cannabis Australia is the Legalise Cannabis Queensland Party, which was officially approved by the Australian Electoral Commission in September 2020 and ran in the October 2020 state election. The party garnered 2.2 percent of the vote, the fourth highest overall. The Legalise Cannabis Western Australia Party won two Upper House seats in the 2021 state election.

The Reason Party (formerly the Australian Sex Party) advocates for cannabis to be legalised, regulated and taxed. The party is currently only represented in the Victorian Legislative Council by Fiona Patton and is not represented at a federal level. Patten recently chaired a foundational committee that provided a report on findings and recommendations on cannabis policy to the Victorian parliament.

Don't forget to follow us @INN_Australia for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Ronelle Richards, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.