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Australia Mining Outlook 2020: Quiet, Confident Optimism

Last year might have been a little disappointing for Australia, but analysts think the Australia mining outlook for 2020 could be brighter.

Click here to read the latest Australia mining outlook.

Last year was one of consolidation and quiet confidence in the Australian resources sector and its ability to keep its head above water amid global economic turmoil. Analysts think those trends are likely to continue heading into 2020.

In 2019, the trade war smothered base and industrial metals and lifted gold to new highs on the back of uncertainty. However, Australia was seemingly in a world of its own as its precious metals sector made gains and its iron ore exports had a roaring start due to a disaster in Brazil.

News over the course of last year was varied as issues came from weather, politics and trade concerns, with all three hammering Australia through the period. Many of those issues — though most predictably the trade concerns — will be present in 2020 as well.

Australia mining outlook 2020: The year(s) ahead

Gold has been highlighted by analysts as the commodity to keep an eye on in Australia for 2020.

That said, David Thurtell, who is manager of resources and energy with the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science for the Australian government, told the Investing News Network (INN) at the International Mining and Resources Conference in November that for 2020 and beyond, strong demand from Asia will hold other doors open too.

“The outlook is still very strong in the long term for resources and energy demand,” said Thurtell.

Owen Hegarty, executive chairman of EMR Capital, said that his optimism for 2020 is based on the stories of 2019 resolving themselves.

“I think we are going to see an uplift in demand next year, because we’re already starting to see the breaking news in regards to the trade and tech war,” he said back in November.

“(In 2020) you’ll have Brexit over with, you’ll have Europe starting to see increased demand, you’ll also see demand coming from India and Indonesia and China … so we’re going to see good, strong demand in 2020,” Hegarty continued.

“I would get invested. We’re looking for projects now, taking the opportunity when things are a little bit down to try and invest in projects and operations to get that set up for 2020 and beyond.”

Hegarty highlighted gold and copper as his (and EMR Capital’s) favoured commodities, adding that the specialty metals like cobalt should be picked over carefully. He also said there is always investment opportunity in iron and coking coal due to Asia’s growth, which he said will underwrite Australia’s own growth through resources.

In an interview with INN, Thurtell was thinking big picture and looking mostly beyond 2020, noting that Australia will be able to play to its already significant strengths in resources in coming years.

“The need for nickel and copper going forward is going to be immense,” he said, pointing out that Australia produces significant quantities of both metals, which are vital for electric vehicles (EVs) and renewable energy uses. “It’s the same with lithium, cobalt and renewable-type commodities … we’ve got significant resources and we’re keen to get those out of the ground and developed to help the world transition to using more renewable power and emitting less carbon.”

Warren Pearce, CEO of the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies, told INN that the next 12 months will likely be better than 2019 given the caution of investors the world over.

“2020 should be a better year, with greater investment likely to return to the industry, as investors seek higher returns and funds return from other industries,” he said.

Paola Rojas, who is the managing director of Synergy Resource Capital, told INN that recent news events in Australia mean that, as a resources economy, it is likely to continue moving away from thermal coal and towards the commodities needed for renewable options and EV infrastructure.

“With our current bushfire season getting so serious this year, I believe there will be a stronger community push for cleaner energy options, and I expect more plants to be shut down,” said Rojas.

She took the opportunity to say that there is plenty of scope for improvement domestically in regards to EVs on top of resources.

“EVs are still less than 2 percent of cars sold in Australia. For a first-world, healthy economy, we are seriously lacking in that department. Synergy is bullish on EVs and battery minerals for the long term once the market stabilises,” said Rojas, although she added that in order for EV adoption to increase, Australia has a long way to go with infrastructure development.

“We are monitoring a couple of interesting firms that may help with that. I expect some progress in this front in 2020,” she noted.

Australia mining outlook 2020: Main issues for (and raised by) investors

When asked about what she thinks the main issues facing the Australian resources industry in 2020 could be, Rojas said that there are ongoing problems with financing and access to capital, as well as communication and environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing.

Exploring her themes for 2020, Rojas said that a major aspect of access to capital has to do with generational renewal in the resources industry.

“Everyone keeps targeting basically the same group of people, and they are Baby Boomers and older. … To reach younger generations, you need to change the way you communicate, you need to be transparent and be where your prospective investors are,” she explained.

“Many firms still believe they can avoid social media and marketing; they may be okay in the short term, but eventually life will catch up with them.”

“On top of this, many institutional investors are putting their foot down and demanding more ESG investing options … so places like (the Democratic Republic of) Congo will have a tougher time attracting capital, but the industry will need to continue improving its relationship with the environment, etc., as society demands it — not an easy task.”

Australia mining outlook 2020: Commodities to watch

Willem Middelkoop, who is the founder of the Commodity Discovery Fund, told INN that he believes the trend to watch out for in Australian resources in 2020 will likely be a continued recovery in gold stocks.

“We think gold will do very well again, because (quantitative easing) will come back in many parts of the world,” said Middelkoop.

When asked about issues that investors should watch out for in 2020, Middelkoop said that the abundance of economic uncertainty is the main concern. “And don’t forget the US elections,” he added.

An issue that will likely carry over from previous years is the lack of new discoveries, said Middelkoop, who said it will be a huge problem further down the line.

Speaking about what she thinks will be the commodity to watch in 2020, Rojas said that, because of all the uncertainty in the markets, it has to be gold.

“I think gold will remain strong because the global turmoil is not ceasing anytime soon, and obviously gold is a flight-to-safety commodity — and Australia has plenty.”

Same as Hegarty, Rojas also highlighted copper’s future in the near term. “I think copper will become stronger, as its role in the electrification revolution is becoming more mainstream and understood. And under them, all commodities with presence in batteries will start to improve, maybe by the end of the year or into 2021.”

Rojas said that 2020 will be an important year to set the tone for the next few years.

“I think it will be a year that will teach us a whole lot about what’s coming over the next decade.”

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

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

Editorial Disclosure: The Investing News Network does not guarantee the accuracy or thoroughness of the information reported in the interviews it conducts. The opinions expressed in these interviews do not reflect the opinions of the Investing News Network and do not constitute investment advice. All readers are encouraged to perform their own due diligence.

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5 Top ASX Robotics Stocks

Emerging Technology Investing
robotic arm above a globe showing Australia

Australia is hoping to lead the way in robotics, and these are some of the country's top robotics stocks by market cap.

Robotics is a growing area of engineering and science technology. Although Australia is hoping to lead the way in robotics, the number of pure-play ASX-listed robotics companies isn't all that big.

Robotics is a broad term covering everything from design to the construction and operation of robots. It also includes the use of robots in roles normally played by humans, often to reduce errors or speed up processes.

This list includes a wide range of ASX-listed companies that employ robotics. Data was sourced using TradingView's stock screener on November 24, 2021, and stocks are listed in order of market cap from largest to smallest.


1. WiseTech Global (ASX:WTC)

Market cap: AU$17.19 billion; current share price: AU$52.90

Technology powerhouse WiseTech Global provides software solutions to logistics businesses in 130 countries around the world. Its CargoWise platforms are designed using workflows, automation and robotics. The WiseTech Global Group includes more than 30 businesses.

The company has performed positively on the ASX over the past year, with its share price rising about 70 percent since the start of 2021. The company expects to continue this momentum in during its 2022 fiscal year, with projected EBITDA growth of 26 to 38 percent.

2. Altium (ASX:ALU)

Market cap: AU$5.47 billion; current share price: AU$41.67

Altium is a leading global software company that focuses on 3D-printed circuit board (PCB) design. Although seemingly obscure, the PCB design tool Altium Designer is used by robotics companies like Robotics Kanti. The company also sponsors student robotics design competitions that focus on PCB design.

The 2021 fiscal year was strong for Altium, which reported a revenue increase of 6 percent, to AU$180.2 million, and announced a final dividend of AU$0.21 per share.

3. Vection Technologies (ASX:VR1)

Market cap: AU$249.49 million; current share price: AU$0.25

Vection Technologies 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 in addition to 3D, virtual reality, augmented reality, industrial internet of things and CAD solutions.

The business is split into two sections: information technology development and outsourced services. The company also collaborates with Autodesk Technology Centres, the Microsoft Mixed Reality Team and Cisco Systems Italy.

4. FBR (ASX:FBR)

Market cap: AU$116.95 million; current share price: AU$0.05

FBR designs, develops and builds robots for the global construction market. The company's dynamically stabilised offerings are made to work outdoors using FBR's Dynamic Stabilisation Technology.

This technology was first used in the Hadrian X, a brick-laying robot that can build structural walls more efficiently than traditional methods and with less waste. The first commercial building to have its structural walls built by Hadrian X in 2020 was completed and tenanted in 2021.

5. Bill Identity (ASX:BID)

Market cap: AU$44.18 million; current share price: AU$0.25

Previously known as BidEnergy, Bill Identity provides a series of bill management solutions leveraged using its Robotic Process Automation (RPA). The RPA system helps clients increase their efficiency and serves customers across Australia, New Zealand, the UK, the US and Europe. The company had a strong year, with total operating revenue growth of 55 percent year-on-year to AU$14.6 million in its 2021 fiscal year.

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

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.