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Australia’s 5 Most Valuable Mineral Exports

One of the richest nations on Earth, Australia’s economy is built on mineral resources. Here’s a look at the country’s five most valuable mineral exports.

Australia’s economy is largely based on its natural resources, with the minerals sector making the greatest contribution to the nation’s exports.

Four of Australia’s states and territories rank in the top 20 mining jurisdictions in the world, according to the Fraser Institute’s latest annual survey of mining companies: Western Australia (fourth), Southern Australia (seventh), Queensland (16th) and the Northern Territory (19th).

These mining jurisdictions demonstrate a high level of investment attractiveness mainly due to their mineral-rich geology, solid infrastructure, stellar economic environment and government support for the resources industry at both the federal and state level.


In the 2018/2019 period, Australia’s minerals exports grew by 26.4 percent over the previous period. Here are the top five most valuable mineral resources exports for the Australian economy; combined they brought in nearly half of Australia’s AU$470 billion worth of exports in the 2018/2019 financial year, as per the most recent data from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

1. Iron ore

Australia is the king of the iron game. US Geological Survey (USGS) information shows it accounted for some 37 percent of global iron production in 2020, well ahead of Brazil in second place. The nation also ranks as the world’s largest exporter of iron ore.

Iron is the definitive base metal, and is used in everything from infrastructure to transportation to advanced technology — meaning Australia and its many iron ore mines in Western Australia have enjoyed a mighty run of economic prosperity as China has leaned into its push for industrialization.

DFAT’s data from 2018/2019 shows that iron ore accounted for over 16 percent of Australia’s total exports in that period, with a value of more than AU$77 billion.

2. Coal

While more western nations around the world are turning away from coal, in Australia the sooty black rock is a source of incredible wealth.

Australia hosts coal deposits across the country, with major operational mines up and down the east coast, including the controversial Carmichael mine in Queensland, which is being developed by India’s Adani Group (BSE:512599,NSE:ADANIENT).

For its part, coal makes up another 15 percent of Australia’s total exports at AU$69.5 billion, with most of it again going to China despite increasingly strict environmental standards. However, simmering political tensions between the two trading partners resulted in China effectively banning Australian coal imports in 2020. And yet, Australia has plenty of other customers as well.

3. Gas

Natural gas is Australia’s third most valuable resource export, earning more than AU$49 billion for the economy with its 10.5 percent share of total exports.

The island continent is home to 14 different basins that yield natural gas. The country has significant natural gas reserves, with much of it locked up in coal seams that require unconventional drilling.

Most of Australia’s natural gas production occurs offshore in the northwest, which has seen an increase in large development projects over the past few years by some of the biggest names in natural gas.

4. Gold

Gold accounted for nearly AU$19 billion in exports in the 2018/2019 financial year in Australia, earning its place as the fourth most valuable mineral export and sixth most valuable export overall.

According to the USGS, Australia produced 320 tonnes of the yellow metal in 2020, making it the second largest gold-producing nation, behind China and ahead of Russia.

Much of Australia’s wealth is founded on gold, with a number of gold rushes triggered in the mid-1800s that supercharged the nation’s development and set it down its path of prosperity through mining. Today most of the top-producing gold mines in the country are located in Western Australia.

5. Aluminium ore

Aluminium ore comes in as the fifth most valuable mineral export from Australia, accounting for 2.3 percent of all exports and earning AU$11.4 billion in 2018/2019. Aluminium is sourced from bauxite, of which Australia has the second largest share of resources in the world.

Aluminium ore is produced from mines in Queensland, New South Wales, the Northern Territory, Western Australia and Victoria. Refined aluminium metal earned its own spot in DFAT’s list of valuable exports for the country at 16th. Australia’s refined aluminium industry has been struggling under the weight of heavy energy costs associated with smelter operations for a number of years now.

“Australia is one of the world’s most emissions-intensive aluminium producers,” reports the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. Renewable energy sources may be the answer to saving the country’s aluminium sector.

And the rest

While the five resources above represent the most valuable mineral exports to the Australian economy, the country sits on significant reserves of almost every mineral you can find on the planet. Other major commodities of significant value to the Australian economy are oil, which is the sixth most valuable resource and ninth most valuable export overall, and copper ores and concentrates, which are the seventh most valuable mineral export and 10th overall.

Wondering where uranium and rare earths are on this list? Despite having 30 percent of the world’s reserves, uranium didn’t rate a mention in exports as its three operational mines only produced 6,613 tonnes of uranium in 2019. And while Australia also ranks as the fourth largest producer of rare earths globally, rare earths production did not rate as a major contributor to the Australian economy.

This is an updated version of an article first published by the Investing News Network in 2019.

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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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.