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The Investing News Network looks at what's happened in Australia's mining market so far in 2021, and what could be ahead in the second half of the year.

Click here to read the previous Australia mining update.

After an uncertain 2020 for the Australian mining industry, the resource market showed signs of a sharp recovery in the first six months of the new year.

Prices for iron ore are supporting resource exports in the country, with many ASX-listed mining companies also posting gains year-to-date.

Here the Investing News Network looks at what's happened in Australia's mining sector so far in 2021, and what could be ahead in the second half.


Australia mining update: A look back at H1

Following a chaotic 2020, where the Australian resource industry showed resilience, 2021 kicked off on a bright note.

During the first three months of the year, Australia's mineral exports improved as the world economy rebounded from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Australian miners have found their product in high demand, helped by the impact of government and central bank measures abroad," the Office of the Chief Economist's (OCE) March quarterly report reads.

In that period, the OCE's Resources and Energy Export Values Index rose 11.8 percent from the March quarter of 2020 — a 1.8 percent rise in prices added to a 10 percent gain in volumes.

Speaking at the recent Noosa Mining Conference in Queensland, EMR Capital's Owen Hegarty said Australia has outperformed almost every other country on the mining front.

"We have remote locations, (and) wonderful principles, policies and practices when it comes to occupational health and safety," he said.

The resource sector is looking strong for the expert in the next few years as demand continues to grow, backed by a sharp recovery, a growing population and the green energy transition.

"Commodities have a very strong demand going out for the longer term — supply side is the problem," he said, pointing to the lack of reinvestment from some of the bigger miners, paired with lead times for permitting and licencing approvals all of which are taking longer.

"There's only one thing that can happen to prices under those sorts of circumstances, and that is they will be under tension," he added.

Looking at how top Australian commodities performed, the iron ore price has remained strong in the first few months of the year, as a recovery in demand in some of the advanced industrialised nations has added to strong Chinese demand. That paired with low Brazilian supply has kept prices high.

"In the coming year, it is likely that the iron ore sector will make a significant contribution to (gross domestic product) growth, as high prices and margins drive growing volumes," the OCE said back in March. "The coal sector is likely to make only a modest contribution to growth in the first half of the outlook period."

Meanwhile, Australian miners and explorers continued to make progress at their projects, following a historic year for capital raising. In fact, according to Refinitiv, 2020 brought the highest total activity in the country since 2015, plus a record number of equity issuances.

In early June, BDO published a report on cash raised by explorers in the mining sector, showing positive signals for a continued strong recovery.

Exploration companies raised AU$2.37 billion in the March 2021 quarter, up 7 percent from the AU$2.21 billion raised in December. Of those companies, 48 raised funds of AU$10 million or more and made up 75 percent of the total funds raised.

"The first quarter of 2021 has proven to be a strong start to the year for Australian explorers, and is showing signs of a transition away from mere recovery to a new focus on ESG," the BDO report reads. "The global push for lower carbon emissions and clean energy has put a spotlight on EV-related commodities and greener energy alternatives, which we are already seeing in the March quarter."

Australia mining update: Expected trends in H2

As economies continue to open up, the fight against the coronavirus is still ongoing. The second half of the year kicked off with new lockdown measures in some countries and cities. However, many continue to be optimistic about the Australian mining sector's outlook for 2021.

Australia's resource and energy exports are estimated at a record AU$310 billion in 2020/2021, with almost half of those earnings coming from iron ore alone.

"The improved outlook reflects the ongoing rollout of vaccines, and the momentum this is providing for economic activity and trade amongst many of Australia's major trading partners," the most recent OCE quarterly report reads.

Australian iron ore earnings appear to have surged by almost 50 percent to an all-time high in 2020/2021. After topping the AU$100 billion mark ― the first time ever for any commodity ― in 2019/2020, iron ore export earnings are forecast to rise to AU$149 billion in 2020/2021, according to the OCE.

In other base metals, Australia's copper export volumes are expected to be moderate over the outlook period, from 924,000 tonnes in 2020/2021 to around 909,000 tonnes in 2022/2023.

"Australia's copper export earnings are expected to increase in-line with higher prices. Export earnings are forecast to reach $13 billion in 2021/2022, up from $10 billion in 2019/2020," the OCE forecasts.

Meanwhile, metallurgical coal prices have recovered moderately, in line with improving global industrial production and economic activity. The Australian premium hard coking coal price is estimated by the OCE to increase from an average of US$143 a tonne in 2021 to around US$157 by 2023.

Looking over to precious metals, Australia's gold exports are forecast to reach a record AU$29 billion in 2021/2022.

"Labour and skill shortages are affecting Australia's gold mine production, which is estimated to reach 332 tonnes in 2020-21," the latest OCE report reads. "Production from new mines and existing mine expansions is expected to boost gold mine production to 388 tonnes in 2022/2023."

For battery metals the story is also looking bright. Rising prices for lithium are supporting the recovery of Australian producers with two refineries under construction.

According to the OCE, Australia's lithium export earnings are forecast to increase from AU$1.1 billion in 2019/2020 to AU$2.5 billion in 2022/2023.

Australia mining market: Commodities to watch

Commenting on his favourite commodities going forward, EMR Capital's Hegarty mentioned copper, gold and met coal.

"Copper is electrifying China and the rest of the developing world. It's the noblest of all metals, it's got a great diversity of uses and now you've got the green energy transition, which adds another leg to copper demand," he said. "It's on the supply side that the issue is ― the discoveries have been declining, exploration spins have been at a low point, so it's going to be tough to bring on new copper."

Aside from copper, the expert also believes lithium, cobalt and graphite will be winners in this green energy transition, and EMR Capital has long positions in cobalt.

Hegarty has also liked gold for a long time, saying it's not only a commodity, but also a currency and a store of value.

"Exchange-traded funds are becoming more and more popular, and also the governments continue to buy gold," he said. "And it's the same thing as with copper — you've just got less exploration going into it, you've got less discoveries going into it and that's why gold continues to be under tension."

Looking over to met coal, Hegarty made the point that this commodity is part of the solution to decarbonisation and not part of the problem.

"It's so important to have that high-quality hard met coal going into steel production, so that we can actually continue to grow and the world can go through this whole decarbonising process," he said.

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.

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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There are many big Australian gold stocks, but these are the five top companies in the sector by market cap.

Australia is the fourth largest producer of gold worldwide, and this past year has brought ups and downs for the commodity. The precious metal hit its 2021 high point early on and fell soon after.

Lately, gold has been resting at a strong price of around US$1,800 per ounce, and it seems like it will exit the year that way. It may even be in for a serious price hike if inflationary pressures continue on their current trajectory.

Read on to learn more about Australia’s five top gold companies by market cap. All market cap and share price information was obtained on November 25, 2021, using TradingView's stock screener.


1. Newcrest Mining

Market cap: AU$19.54 billion; current share price: AU$24.14

Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM) operates a portfolio of gold mines across Australia, Canada and Papua New Guinea. These include its New South Wales-based Cadia mine and its Western Australia-based Telfer and Havieron mines.

In November 2021, Newcrest agreed to purchase British Columbia-based Pretium Resources (TSX:PVG,NYSE:PVG) for C$3.5 billion, marking the company’s expansion into Western Canada.

2. Kirkland Lake Gold

Market cap: AU$14.57 billion; current share price: AU$54.99

Kirkland Lake Gold (ASX:KLA) has mining operations in Australia and Canada, both of which are low-risk, gold-rich countries. The company’s Fosterville mine is based in Victoria, Australia, and as of December 31, 2018, its mineral reserves stood at 2.7 million ounces. It produced 640,467 ounces in 2020.

In September 2021, Kirkland Lake Gold and Agnico Eagle Mines (TSX:AEM,NYSE:AEM), a Canadian gold miner, announced a “merger of equals." The new company will go by the name Agnico Eagle Mines, and the companies expect the transaction to close in late 2021 or early 2022.

3. AngloGold Ashanti

Market cap: AU$12.43 billion; current share price: AU$5.83

AngloGold Ashanti (ASX:AGG) is a global gold miner formed in 2004. It has two Australia-based operations, both of which are based in Western Australia’s northeastern goldfields: Sunrise Dam and Tropicana. Sunrise Dam is 100 percent owned, while Tropicana is 70 percent owned, with the remaining 30 percent owned by Regis Resources (ASX:RRL,OTC Pink:RGRNF). In 2020, these operations produced 554,000 ounces of gold.

In Q3 2021, AngloGold Ashanti reported total gold production of 613,000 ounces at a total cash cost of US$927 per ounce. This represents a 5 percent quarter-over-quarter increase in production, though a year-to-date decrease.

4. Northern Star Resources

Market cap: AU$11.39 billion; current share price: AU$9.66

Northern Star Resources (ASX:NST) is an Australian gold-mining company with projects throughout Western Australia and North America at its Kalgoorlie, Yandal and Pogo production centres. In the 2021 fiscal year, Northern Star experienced a 40 percent revenue increase and a 10 percent cash earnings hike.

In late November 2021, Northern Star announced an agreement to buy Newmont Australia’s power business for US$95 million. The company paid US$25 million for the option to purchase this business, an opportunity it was given through its recent 50 percent acquisition of Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines.

5. Evolution Mining

Market cap: AU$7.53 billion; current share price: AU$4.12

Australian gold miner Evolution Mining (ASX:EVN) has projects throughout New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia, as well as in Ontario, Canada. Evolution Mining produced 680,788 ounces of gold in the 2021 fiscal year at an all-in sustaining cost of AU$1,215 per ounce.

In 2019, Evolution Mining became one of only two Australian gold companies to be included in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (INDEXDJX:W1SGI). In 2020 and 2021, the company made several strategic acquisitions and divestments, including its high-value purchases of the Red Lake and the Kundana operations.

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

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

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

What are the largest Australian copper companies? These five ASX copper stocks are the biggest on the exchange by market cap.

Last year, pandemic restrictions forced copper mines to shut down across the world, driving down global production and causing the 10 largest copper-mining companies to suffer dramatic losses.

But in 2021, copper hit an all-time high of US$10,700 per tonne, and stayed over US$9,000 for much of the year.

The three top copper-producing countries globally are Chile, Peru and China, with Australia coming in at number six. Still, there are plenty of untapped resources in the land down under, and Australia is making a name for itself as an up-and-coming producer of this important base metal.


Read on to learn more about the top five Australian copper companies on the ASX, ranked by market cap. All market cap and share price information was obtained on November 26, 2021, from TradingView.

1. BHP

Market cap: AU$192.56 billion; current share price: AU$38.03

BHP (ASX:BHP) is a top global producer of copper, nickel, potash, iron ore and metallurgical coal, with copper production centralised at its South Australia-based Olympic Dam mine.

The company, whose headquarters are in Melbourne, Australia, emphasises copper’s function in renewable energy systems and the metal’s critical role in reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

Recently, BHP has focused its attention on its energy assets. In late November, the company merged its oil and gas portfolio with Woodside Petroleum, a deal that was originally struck in August of the same year. On the mineral side of its operations, BHP was looking to acquire Noront Resources (TSXV:NOT,OTC Pink:NOSOF), a Canada-based nickel, copper, chrome and platinum company, but decided not to match a superior offer.

2. OZ Minerals 

Market cap: AU$8.77 billion; current share price: AU$25.70

OZ Minerals (ASX:OZL) is a South Australia-based copper-mining company founded in 2008. Its operations include the Carrapateena project, where construction was completed in 2019, and the upcoming Malu underground mine, which was commissioned in 2015.

In a November press release, OZ Minerals reported a year-to-date 5 percent increase in group ore reserve copper metal tonnes. In its third quarter results, the company reported guidance of between 120,000 and 145,000 tonnes of copper for the year.

3. Sandfire Resources

Market cap: AU$2.59 billion; current share price: AU$6.11

Sandfire Resources (ASX:SFR) owns 7,189 square kilometres in the Bryah Basin region of Western Australia, including its DeGrussa and Monty operations. Both of these are 100 percent owned and produce copper and gold.

The company released its third quarter results in October, reporting total copper production of 15,946 tonnes. Sandfire expects output of between 64,000 and 68,000 tonnes of copper in 2022.

4. 29Metals

Market cap: AU$1.29 billion; current share price: AU$2.63

Australia-based mining company 29Metals (ASX:29M) has the Golden Grove mine in Western Australia and the Capricorn copper mine in Queensland, along with several promising new growth opportunities lined up. 29Metals focuses on copper production, though it also mines for zinc, gold and silver.

According to an October release from the company, production was weaker than expected at Golden Grove during the September quarter. However, the asset's quarter-on-quarter decline of about 10 percent was largely offset by a strong performance at Capricorn.

5. Copper Mountain Mining

Market cap: AU$804.96 million; current share price: AU$3.81

Copper Mountain Mining (ASX:C6C) is a Canadian and Australian copper miner, with its flagship Copper Mountain operation in British Columbia, Canada, and its Eva and Cameron copper projects in Queensland, Australia.

In the third quarter, Copper Mountain Mining reported total output of 22.4 million pounds of copper at its Copper Mountain mine, representing a 12.1 percent quarter-over-quarter decline in production. The company still reported positive cash flow, with strong construction and exploration gains made at its Eva and Cameron projects.

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

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

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