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What is the outlook for Australia's mining sector? Read on to learn what market watchers expect for 2022.

Click here to read the previous Australia mining outlook.

Vaccine rollouts and the beginning of a global economic recovery were major trends that impacted the mining space in 2021, but COVID-19 uncertainty looks set to continue.

In 2021, Australia benefited from higher iron ore prices, which hit a decade high before sharply declining, as well as strong demand for metallurgical coal, which saw positive catalysts throughout the 12 month period.

Here the Investing News Network (INN) looks at the Australia mining outlook for the coming year.


Australia mining outlook 2022: Trends and catalysts ahead

Since COVID-19 hit the world in 2020, countries across the globe have implemented different strategies to manage its impact, with the mining industry seeing its own specific challenges.

In Australia, a major issue has been staff shortages, given border restrictions and supply chain disruptions, but output of key commodities has been largely unaffected, David Franklyn of Argonaut told INN.

“The Australian mining sector coped exceptionally well during COVID-19 in 2021,” he said. “Really in 2021, it had almost no impact on the entire Australian mining sector, in particular in Western Australia.”

In fact, Western Australia's resource sector delivered mineral and petroleum sales valued at a record AU$210 billion in 2020/2021, compared with the previous highest sales value of AU$177 billion set in 2020.

Furthermore, the entire Australian resource and energy sector is expected to see record exports for 2021/2022. Driven primarily by higher commodity prices and a weaker Australian dollar, export earnings hit a record $310 billion in 2020/2021, with earnings forecast to rise a further 22 percent in 2021/2022 to AU$379 billion.

As the new year begins, the outlook for the Australian mining space is looking bright, not only from an export perspective, but also in terms of commodity prices.

“Industrial metal prices will continue to rise, supported by lack of supply and rising demand as the globe continues to recover and restrictions lift,” Jessica Amir, Australian market strategist at Saxo, told INN.

For the expert, the focus of major global players such as the US and China will be on green transformational initiatives, which require industrial metals.

“With copper and aluminium stock already running low, development could send prices back towards — and potentially above — the record levels seen last year,” Amir said. “Commodities and energy stocks will likely remain the best performers — they are so far in 2022.”

Copper prices hit an all-time high in 2021, surpassing the US$10,700 per tonne level on the back of higher demand expectations, while aluminium broke the US$3,000 per tonne level to hit nearly US$3,200, rallying to a 13 year high.

In 2022, Argonaut’s Franklyn is expecting a transition in the Australian mining space. “Historically, the Australian mining sector has been focused on iron ore and coal (thermal and met), whereas we are seeing a rejuvenation in the base metals such as copper, nickel and zinc, along with a rapidly expanding lithium sector,” he said.

Speaking about trends he is expecting to see in 2022, Franklyn said the green energy transition will continue to be a key theme. “The big issue is can supply keep up with demand, because you can build a new battery factory in a couple of years, but to build a new mine takes a decade,” he said.

Locally and globally the green transformation is highly watched, with stimulus being a big part of the transition.

“We have paper thin, and little to no electric vehicle stimulus,” Amir said. “Keep a look out for federal stimulus in the lithium and hydrogen sectors closer to the election in May.”

Commenting on what could be ahead for Australian companies, Amir said the biggest challenge relates to rising interest rates and environmental, social and governance concerns.

“We saw what happened with Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO,LSE:RIO,NYSE:RIO) getting its lithium-mining licence revoked due to environmental concerns,” she said.

For Franklyn, securing quality staff and equipment is currently the biggest challenge for miners in the country.

“Australia has the opportunity to be a green energy powerhouse if it has the political will and foresight, endowed with vast reserves of lithium, nickel, copper, rare earths, uranium and plenty of wind and sun to drive renewable energy production,” he said about the country's future possibilities. “There's potential to develop downstream processing, something Australia has not done well historically.”

Australia mining outlook 2022: Commodities to watch

When asked about which commodities he will be watching in 2022, Franklyn pointed out again that the green energy transition will drive long-term demand for nickel, copper and lithium, among others.

“While there will be volatility along the way as demand and supply mismatch, this is a 10 to 20 year transition and is the cornerstone of resource sector investing,” he said.

At the same time, there could be renewed opportunities in the oil and gas sector.

“We are likely to see funding for new fossil fuel projects constrained, putting pressure on supply, whilst demand will stay firm,” he said. “I think there's greater recognition, particularly on the gas side, that gas is perhaps a transition fuel, and it's going to be necessary to manage that transition from fossil fuels into green energy.”

Amir agreed, saying it is likely gas will see increasing demand, given that it's viewed as a bridge between coal and renewables. “Crude oil will likely tighten in supply again this year — several OPEC (nations) plus other nations are struggling to meet their supply quotas, and mobility is not even back at pre-pandemic levels,” she commented. “We have a long-term bullish view of the oil market.”

Despite what many market watchers may think given global headlines, coal will also likely continue to rise because it is a key source of energy, according to Saxo. “China, India and Russia make up 50 percent of global electricity consumption — 70 percent is from burning coal,” Amir said. “Last year, global electricity generated from coal surged 9 percent to a new record high in 2021, with China and India increasing coal demand.”

Looking over to mining businesses, Amir is interested in companies operating in different resource sectors, and she highlighted iron ore. “Australia's iron ore exports make up 60 percent of global supply, with most iron ore coming from Western Australia,” she said in conversation with INN. “Iron ore is also one of Australia’s biggest exports — so when iron ore rallies, it supports Australia’s GDP.”

Lithium is another one to keep an eye out for, as 60 percent of global lithium comes from Australia, and again mostly from Western Australia. “The lithium price is tipped to continue to rise to another record,” she said, adding that major lithium producers are optimistic about the space due to a lack of mining investment and rising demand.

But a sector that could be big for Australia going forward is hydrogen.

“The Australian government's hydrogen exports and domestic use could be worth up to AU$50 billion within 30 years, helping the world achieve deep decarbonisation,” Amir pointed out.

Stocks the analyst will be watching in 2022 include Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS,OTC Pink:PILBF) and Allkem (ASX:AKE,OTC Pink:OROCF), as well as Fortescue Metals Group (ASX:FMG,OTC Pink:FSUMF) alongside AGL Energy (ASX:AGL,OTC Pink:AGLNF) and APA Group (ASX:APA) for their hydrogen exposure; the latter two are a consortium.

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

Securities Disclosure: I, Priscila Barrrera, 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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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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The Australian Securities Exchange is home to diverse companies and has a market cap of more than AU$2.5 trillion. Where did it all begin?

The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) is headquartered in Sydney, Australia, and is home to over 2,100 companies. Led by some of the world's major resource, technology and financial corporations, the ASX boasted a domestic market cap of over AU$2.5 trillion as of the beginning of 2022.

The ASX acts as a market operator, clearing house and payments facilitator. It allows for the trading of a wide variety of securities, including shares, bonds, futures, options, exchange-traded funds, index derivatives and listed investment companies. The ASX mandates compliance with its operating rules and encourages high standards of corporate governance among Australia’s listed companies.

Ranked by market cap, the top 10 major stocks traded on the exchange are BHP Group (ASX:BHP), the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA), CSL (ASX:CSL), National Australia Bank (ASX:NAB), Westpac Banking (ASX:WBC), Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ASX:ANZ), Macquarie Group (ASX:MQG), Fortescue Metals Group (ASX:FMG), Wesfarmers (ASX:WES) and Telstra (ASX:TLS).


Depending on global market fluctuations, the ASX normally ranks as the 16th or 17th largest national stock exchange in the world. In addition, it's the largest interest rate derivatives market in Asia, and one of the largest in the world, with total futures and options contract exposure nearing AU$50 trillion.

History of the ASX: How the exchange began

The first Australian stock exchange was established in Melbourne in 1861. Over the course of the next few decades, five additional regional exchanges located in various Australian state capitals came into being: Sydney in 1871, Hobart in 1882, Brisbane in 1884, Adelaide in 1887 and Perth 1889.

The first interstate stock exchange conference was held in Melbourne in 1903; it brought together representatives of the Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Adelaide stock exchanges. The remaining two in Hobart and Perth would soon join the annual event. The six state exchanges continued to trade independently of each other, however, until 1937, when the Australian Associated Stock Exchanges (AASE) was established.

This was a milestone that brought Australian stock trading into closer alignment with global standards through the implementation of uniform listing requirements, broker regulations and commission fees. The AASE also set official guidelines for government and corporate bond issues.

This led to the creation of the first Australian consolidated share price index in 1938; it was a forerunner to the establishment of the All Ordinaries Index (INDEXASX:XAO) in 1979. Commonly known as the "All Ords," the new index replaced the six regional indices and became Australia's first official national share price index.

Importantly, this act not only consolidated share trading into a single structural framework, but also created a comprehensive institutional benchmark that promoted greater visibility and clarity for domestic and international investors. The base value for the All Ordinaries Index was set at 500 and trading began on January 2, 1980.

Australian stock trading then entered the modern era with the foundation of the Australian Stock Exchange in 1987. The company came into being through legislation passed by the Parliament of Australia, which authorised the fusion of the six independent state-based exchanges into a single body.

In 1998, the ASX became a listed corporation, which transformed former exchange members into shareholders. The ASX floated its shares on its exchange at an initial price of AU$4, thus becoming the first stock exchange in the world to become a publicly traded company.

In 2000, the ASX took the critical step of replacing the All Ordinaries Index with the creation of the S&P/ASX 200 Index (INDEXASX:XJO), which immediately became the primary institutional benchmark for the Australian market. By joining forces with Standard & Poor's, long recognised as the global leader in ensuring liquid and efficient trading markets, the ASX helped raise its profile as one of the world's leading exchanges.

Finally, in 2006, the Australian Securities Exchange was created with the merger of the Australian Stock Exchange with the Sydney Futures Exchange. The new name — ASX Limited — was introduced to reflect the new entity's expanded product range. The Australian Securities Exchange has come to be known by its three-letter listing, ASX.

Today, the S&P/ASX 200 is the most widely followed Australian market index by professional investors, and consists of the top 200 companies on the ASX. The ASX 200 is commonly quoted alongside the All Ordinaries Index, which is a more broadly based market index consisting of the 500 largest companies on the exchange.

The metals and mining sector, led by global giants BHP, Fortescue and Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO), is the most heavily weighted portion of the ASX exchange. Accordingly, fluctuations in world commodities prices play a major role in share price movements in this sector, which has a relatively larger corresponding impact on the ASX as a whole.

History of the ASX: Major ASX index falls

As has been the case with virtually every major global stock exchange over the past century, the ASX and its forerunners have experienced their own series of major booms and busts.

On October 19, 1987, "Black Monday," a selloff in the US stock market driven by computerised trading, caused a global wave of panic selling that saw the All Ordinaries Index plunge 516 points, or more than 25 percent. The index fell by a staggering 50.5 percent from the beginning of October to November 13.

On November 2, 2007, the S&P/ASX 200 reached a record intraday trading high of 6,851.5 before plunging 54.5 percent in the year 2008 owing to the global financial crisis. The ASX 200 would go on to record its worst single-day trading loss in history on October 10, 2008, when it fell 8.3 percent.

Most recently, the S&P/ASX 200 set a new one-day trading loss on October 16, 2020, when it fell nearly 10 percent amid COVID-19 fears and news that the US Federal Reserve had cut interest rates to near zero.

Despite these major meltdowns, the ASX 200 reached an all-time closing day high of 7,628.9 on August 13, 2021.

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

Securities Disclosure: I, Harold Von Kursk, currently hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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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Marquee Resources

Marquee Resources Limited (Company or Marquee) (ASX: MQR) is pleased to announce that drilling at the highly prospective Kibby Basin Lithium Project (Project) in Nevada, USA has commenced.


  • Marquee commences drilling at the highly anticipated Kibby Lithium Project in Nevada. The Project is fully permitted for water extraction for the use of brine processing and production of lithium compounds within the 2,560 acres (~10.35sqkm) Project, a key feature should a Large-Scale brine and clay lithium deposit be identified.
  • The two (2) stage drill program for a total 3,000 metres across three (3) drill holes will target a highly conductive geophysical anomaly, which has the signature for a potential lithium enriched aquifer beneath the Kibby Playa (dried lakebed).
  • The Project is located ~4 hours from Tesla’s Gigafactory Number 1 and ~50kms north of ASX-listed Ioneer Ltd's (ASX: INR) flagship Rhyolite Ridge Lithium-Boron Project which has recently been Joint Ventured with Sibanye Stillwater Limited (Sibanye-Stillwater) to develop the project, with Sibanye- Stillwater contributing US$490 million for a 50% interest in the Joint Venture.
  • The setting of the Kibby Valley is a 7.4km long structure identified with characteristics interpreted to be akin to major structures bounding the south side of Clayton Valley, indicating a basin large enough to develop layers that could act as aquifers, as well as allow for development of a favourable hydrogeologic setting to host lithium‐bearing brines.

The two (2) stage – 3,000 metre drill program across three drill holes will target a highly conductive geophysical anomaly, which has the signature for a potential lithium enriched aquifer beneath the Kibby Playa (dried lakebed).

Figure 1 - Kibby Basin Section and Proposed Drill Holes

The objective of the drill program is to delineate a lithium-enriched brine aquifer deposit in Kibby Basin, Nevada, USA that is amenable to mining, using wells to extract brine for processing to a saleable lithium hydroxide monohydrate (LiOH∙H2O) product.

The potential deposit type is a continental, mineral-enriched brine aquifer within a hydrographically closed basin (endorheic basin). Continental brines are the primary source for lithium products worldwide. Bradley and others (2013) noted that “all producing lithium brine deposits share several first-order characteristics: (1) arid climate; (2)closed basin containing a playa or salar; (3) tectonically driven subsidence; (4) associated igneous or geothermal activity; (5) suitable lithium source-rocks; (6) one or more adequate aquifers; and (7) sufficient time to concentrate a brine.”

The Project target is a potential lithium enriched aquifer at an estimated 800-1,000 metre depth. It is at this depth, Albermarle, who owns the only producing lithium mine in North America which is located in Clayton Valley has been successfully extracting lithium brines.

Kibby Basin Lithium Project