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.

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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 …

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The gold price is trading lower than some market watchers would prefer, but the top-performing ASX gold stocks so far this year are making leaps.

Click here to read the previous best ASX gold stocks article.

While 2021 was a disappointing year for gold, analysts are optimistic about the outlook for 2022.

The yellow metal passed the US$2,000 per ounce mark as tensions between Russia and Ukraine heated up, but has since pulled back to trade closer to US$1,800. However, diverse factors could combine to push it higher.

Demand for gold jewellery, gold bars and coins, and the metal’s use in the technology sector are still going strong, and supply is also a growing concern due to decreased gold exploration efforts in recent years.


Against this backdrop, many Australian gold stocks are doing well. And with the precious metal generally considered a safe investment, it's worth being aware of the county's top-performing companies.

Here the Investing News Network looks at the best ASX gold stocks of the year so far by year-to-date gains. The list of stocks below was generated on April 29, 2022, using TradingView’s stock screener, and all companies included had market caps over AU$30 million at that time.

1. Xantippe Resources

Year-to-date gain: 180 percent; market cap: AU$107.3 million; current share price: AU$0.01

Xantippe Resources (ASX:XTC) is focused on Western Australia's Southern Cross region, which is widely known for its past gold production. The precious metals explorer's Southern Cross project is made up of 20 prospecting licences and six exploration licences, and holds a number of key priority targets.

In late April, Xantippe confirmed the acquisition of lithium tenements in Argentina with the hope of commencing exploration activities in the third quarter.

2. Minrex Resources

Year-to-date gain: 55.81 percent; market cap: AU$63.05 million; current share price: AU$0.07

Minrex Resources’ (ASX:MRR) assets include five gold and base metals projects in Western Australia, four of which are in the mineral-rich East Pilbara region.

The company started off the year with high-grade gold drill results from its work at the Queenslander gold prospect within its Sofala project. The prospect is centred around the past-producing Queenslander mine.

3. Aston Minerals

Year-to-date gain: 38.1 percent; market cap: AU$164.19 million; current share price: AU$0.15

Gold and nickel-cobalt explorer Aston Minerals (ASX:ASO) is moving forward at its Edleston gold project, located in the Cadillac-Larder Lake fault zone of Canada's Abitibi greenstone belt. Edleston is its flagship asset, and according to the company, it is the first in over a decade to drill in this area.

Aston continues to focus on gold at Edleston, but its Boomerang nickel-cobalt target has come to the forefront in recent months, with the company announcing the results of its maiden hole there in early December.

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

Securities Disclosure: I, Marlee John, currently hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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Australian lithium miners continued to move ahead with their projects during the year's third financial quarter.

After hitting all-time highs in 2021, lithium prices started to stabilise in 2022's first quarter.

China’s lockdown measures to battle COVID-19 have disrupted the supply chain and impacted domestic demand in recent weeks, but this is expected to be temporary, according to William Adams of Fastmarkets.

“The lithium market is very tight. We don't see that easing anytime soon,” he said during a recent webinar about risks in the battery metals market. “We think the underlying fundamentals and the trends are still very strong.”


During the third quarter of the financial year, Australian lithium miners continued to move ahead with their projects, and despite the increased volatility in the markets, many ASX lithium stocks saw share price gains as well.

Perth-based Pilbara Minerals' (ASX:PLS,OTC Pink:PILBF) production for the quarter was 81,431 dry metric tonnes (dmt), slightly down compared to the previous three months, but within guidance. The company said the main factor impacting output was higher COVID-19 cases, which resulted in staff and contractor shortages.

“COVID-19 has (and may continue in the near term) to cause operational delays, including staffing shortages for both shut-down and operating staff (mining and processing),” the company said in a statement. Even so, Pilbara has decided to maintain its production guidance in the range of 340,000 to 380,000 dmt.

During its fourth battery material exchange auction, the company saw the highest bid ever at US$5,650 per dmt for a cargo of 5,000 dmt of spodumene, showing the critical shortage in lithium raw material supply.

Western Australia-focused Pilbara, which owns the lithium-tantalum Pilgangoora operation, has partnerships with Ganfeng Lithium (OTC Pink:GNENF,SZSE:002460), General Lithium, Great Wall Motor Company (OTC Pink:GWLLF,HKEX:2333), POSCO (NYSE:PKX), CATL (SZSE:300750) and Yibin Tianyi.

Shares of Pilbara were trading at AU$2.53 on May 10, down 28.13 percent year-to-date, but up more than 100 percent compared to this time last year.

For its part, leading Australian lithium and iron ore miner Mineral Resources (ASX:MIN,OTC Pink:MALRF) saw its Mount Marion mine’s production reach 104,000 dmt during the quarter; it also shipped 94,000 dmt of spodumene concentrate. The company is maintaining its full-year production guidance at 450,000 to 475,000 dmt.

In April, Mineral Resources and partner Ganfeng agreed to optimise production and upgrade Mount Marion's processing facilities. Spodumene concentrate capacity at the operation is expected to increase from 450,000 dmt per year to 600,000 dmt annually.

“The decision to upgrade the plant reflects an expectation that the lithium market outlook will remain extremely strong for the foreseeable future,” the company said in a press release. A second stage increase, expected to be completed by the end of 2022, will see capacity rise further to reach 900,000 dmt.

Aside from Mount Marion, the company holds interests in Wodgina in partnership with another top producer — Albemarle (NYSE:ALB). The companies decided to restart Wodgina last year as a result of soaring global lithium demand. The mine produced its first spodumene concentrate on May 12.

“(We have) also agreed to review the state of the global lithium market towards the end of this calendar year to assess timing for the start-up of Train 3 and the possible construction of Train 4,” the company said. Each train has a nameplate capacity of 250,000 dmt of 6 percent product.

Mineral Resources’ share price was down 10.71 percent on May 10, trading at AU$52.71. That said, the stock is up 9.11 percent year-on-year.

During the March quarter, Argentina-focused Allkem (ASX:AKE,OTC Pink:OROCF) outlined its plans to increase lithium production threefold by 2026 and become a top three chemicals supplier.

In Western Australia, the company owns the Mount Cattlin mine, which produced 48,562 dmt of spodumene concentrate and shipped 66,011 tonnes in the March quarter.

“Strong conditions in the spodumene market are supporting advanced discussions for spodumene concentrate pricing in the June quarter of approximately US$5,000 per dmt SC6 percent CIF on sales of approximately 50,000 tonnes,” the company told investors in a note.

In Argentina, Allkem operates the Salar de Olaroz and is developing the Sal de Vida lithium brine. Additionally, in partnership with Toyota Tsusho (TSE:8015), Allkem is building a 10,000 tonne per year lithium hydroxide plant in Naraha, Japan. The company also owns the James Bay lithium pegmatite project in Canada.

On May 10, shares of Allkem were changing hands for AU$10.95, down 2.23 percent year-to-date, but up over 55 percent year-on-year.

Although its main focus is nickel, Independence Group (ASX:IGO) joined the lithium party last year after it bought a stake in Tianqi Lithium’s Australian assets. The companies, in joint venture, now control the majority of the biggest lithium mine in the world — Greenbushes.

Production at the mine was up 5 percent quarter-on-quarter at 270,464 tonnes of spodumene concentrate. By 2025, Greenbushes is expected to add around 800,000 tonnes per year to its output capacity.

IGO has seen its share price decline 4.63 percent year-to-date, trading at AU$11.34 on May 11. However, the stock is up 47.27 year-on-year.

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

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

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