Thursday, 28 March 2024

The release of the March Resources and Energy Quarterly (REQ) highlights that despite easing global prices for coal and gas, Australia’s resources sector is still holding up the national accounts with $417 billion in earnings for 2023-24, as Australian steel-making coal continues to dominate global markets.

Senator Susan McDonald, Shadow Minister for Resources, said that easing costs were expected, however Labor’s inaction in the critical minerals sector has contributed to stalling projects and falling export earnings.

Senator McDonald said that “today’s export earnings report confirms that the resources sector remains the backbone of Australia, despite Labor’s best attempts to undermine the sector.

“Australian steel-making coal makes up over 50 per cent of global exports, and growth in domestic operations will see export tonnage rise by 18 million tonnes to 2029.

“It will come as no surprise that the Government snuck out this report the day before the Easter weekend to hide these coal forecasts, because Labor continues to have a problem with the income and jobs that come from coal.

“Coking coal remains crucial in the steel supply chain, and our international partners rely on high quality Australian coal for their production lines.”

Senator McDonald highlighted that whilst increasing revenue from iron ore was promising, there is a worrying trend in the downturn of critical minerals earnings.

“As the report highlights, Australia’s nickel and lithium sectors are facing pressure, with closures and production cuts on the horizon. 

“Labor have yet to show any real initiative in driving our critical minerals sector into the future, and thanks to their slow attempts to support our nickel industry, there is the potential that these supply chains become threatened.

“How does this Government think they are going to manufacture solar panels and batteries when they can’t even mine the raw ingredients?

“Lithium export earnings are set to drop by more than half from 2022-23 to 2023-24, and it is imperative that the Government take swift action to secure international investment and supply agreements to secure the future of the critical minerals industry.

“I called on the Government to expand the critical minerals list in June last year, yet thanks to their delay, coupled with rising energy costs, skills shortages and damaging industrial relations policies, the sector faces significant pressures.”