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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2004  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/02/2004   
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Contents >> Mining >> Mineral and petroleum resources

The statistics of available mineral resources provided in table 16.7 are obtained from the annual publication Australia's Identified Mineral Resources produced by Geoscience Australia. They provide an indication of the extent of mineral resources available for extraction with the main focus being on economic demonstrated resources (EDR).

EDR is a measure of the resources that are established, analytically demonstrated or assumed with reasonable certainty to be profitable for extraction or production under defined investment assumptions. Classifying a mineral resource as EDR reflects a high degree of certainty as to the size and quality of the resource and its economic viability.

Australia has the world's largest EDR of bauxite, lead, mineral sands (ilmenite, rutile and zircon), nickel, silver, tantalum, uranium and zinc and ranks second in the world for recoverable brown coal with a share of 20%. In addition, Australia's EDR for copper, industrial diamonds and gold are also rated the third largest in the world. Table 16.7 shows the importance, in a global sense, of the main mineral resources in Australia.

16.7 ECONOMIC DEMONSTRATED RESOURCES OF MAJOR MINERALS - December 2001

Mineral
Quantity
Australia
World
Australia as
proportion
of World EDR
Australia's ranking
in World holdings
of EDR

Bauxite
Gt
4.6
24
19
1st
Black coal
In situ
Gt
60.0
n.a.
n.a.
n.a.
Recoverable
Gt
40.8
788
5
6th
Brown coal
In situ
Gt
41.9
n.a.
n.a.
n.a.
Recoverable
Gt
37.7
188
20
2nd
Copper(b)
Mt Cu
24.2
355
7
3rd
Diamonds
Gem and near gem
Mc
79.2
n.a.
n.a.
n.a.
Industrial
Mc
82.4
580
14
3rd
Gold(b)
t Au
5,156
50,156
10
3rd
Iron ore
Gt
12.4
133.6
9
4th
Lead(b)
Mt Pb
17.3
64
27
1st
Lithium(b)
kt Li
152
3,403
4
(a)
Manganese ore
Mt
125
1,878
7
4th
Mineral sands
Ilmenite
Mt
202
639
32
1st
Rutile
Mt
22
49.8
44
1st
Zircon
Mt
30
71
42
1st
Nickel(b)
Mt Ni
21.9
59.9
37
1st
Silver(b)
kt Ag
41.4
280
15
1st
Tantalum(b)
kt Ta
40.8
43.8
93
1st
Uranium(b)
kt U
648
1,564
41
1st
Vanadium(b)
kt V
267
10,000
3
n.a.
Zinc(b)
Mt Zn
35.1
190
18
1st

(a) According to United States Geological Survey estimates, Chile holds about 88% of the world's lithium resources, followed by Canada with just over 5% and Australia with just under 5%. However, resource data are not available for some important producing countries including Argentina, China and Russia. Lithium brine resources, now the dominant feedstock for lithium carbonate production, are produced dominantly by Chile. Canada and Australia have the most significant resources of lithium minerals.
(b) Quantity measured in contained metal.
Source: Geoscience Australia, 'Australia's Identified Mineral Resources, 2002'.

During the 12-month period ended December 2001, significant increases in Australia's EDR were recorded for vanadium (42%), tantalum (41%), silver (29%), lead (19%) and nickel (10%) (table 16.8). The following factors contribute to these increases:

  • Despite increased production a doubling of the resource base at Wodgina in Western Australia from 13,507 tonnes (t) to 27,216 t of tantalum pentoxide consolidated Australia's position as the world's largest holder of tantalum resources.
  • The increase in total EDR for vanadium is due to the reassessment of the resources in the Windimurra deposit in Western Australia. This deposit contains 97% of Australia's EDR.
  • The EDR for silver increased due primarily to an increase in Queensland's EDR from 20.7 megatonnes (Mt) to 28.7 Mt. Queensland's share of total EDR increased from 64% in 2000 to 69% in 2001.
  • All states with EDR for lead recorded increased holdings in 2001 except Tasmania and Western Australia. Queensland retained its premier ranking with 8.8 Mt (51% of EDR) due to increased resource definition at Cannington and Mt Isa.
  • The increase of EDR for nickel was due primarily to industry reassessment of resources at existing deposits.

Over this same period, the EDR for diamonds fell by 14% due mainly to production from the Argyle mine. There was also a decline in EDR for iron ore. This decrease was due to a company's reassessment of Robe River deposits.

16.8 ECONOMIC DEMONSTRATED RESOURCES OF SELECTED MINERALS

Australia
World


Mineral
Quantity
2000
2001
% change
2000
2001
% change

Bauxite
Gt
4.4
4.6
4.5
25
24
-4.0
Coal
Gt
80.3
78.5
-2.2
959
976
1.8
Copper(a)
Mt Cu
24.1
24.2
0.4
340
355
4.4
Diamonds
Mc
188.7
161.6
-14.4
580
580
-
Gold(a)
t Au
4,959
5,156
4.0
48,959
50,156
2.4
Iron ore
Gt
13.6
12.4
-8.8
135.6
133.6
-1.5
Lead(a)
Mt Pb
14.6
17.3
18.5
64
64
-
Lithium(a)
kt Li
157
152
-3.2
3,400
3,403
0.1
Manganese ore
Mt
128
125
-2.3
1,871
1,878
0.4
Mineral sands
Mt
246
254
3.3
789.6
759.8
-3.8
Nickel(a)
Mt Ni
20.0
21.9
9.5
58.2
59.9
2.9
Silver(a)
kt Ag
32.1
41.4
29.0
280
280
-
Tantalum(a)
kt Ta
29
40.8
40.7
32.3
43.8
35.6
Uranium(a)
kt U
654
648
-0.9
1,570
1,564
-0.4
Vanadium(a)
kt V
188
267
42.0
10,000
10,000
-
Zinc(a)
Mt Zn
33
35.1
6.4
190
190
-

(a) Quantity measured in contained metal.
Source: Geoscience Australia, 'Australia's Identified Mineral Resources', 2001 and 2002 issues.

Australia's petroleum resources encompass crude oil, condensate, naturally occurring liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and natural gas. EDR for petroleum are resources which are judged to be economically extractable and for which the quantity and quality are computed partly from specific measurements, and partly from extrapolation for a reasonable distance on geological evidence. Subeconomic demonstrated resources (SDR) are similar to EDR in terms of certainty of occurrence but are considered to be potentially economic only in the foreseeable future.

The information presented in table 16.9 is obtained from the annual publication, Oil and Gas Resources of Australia, produced by Geoscience Australia. The table shows the change in petroleum reserves over the period 1998 to 2001. EDR for crude oil reserves were declining (down 32%) while reserves for sales gas had increased significantly (EDR increased 51%, SDR increased 25%) due mainly to discoveries of major gas resources off north western Australia. Discoveries of crude oil reserves had not been sufficient to offset the reduction in crude oil reserves through production. Unlike crude oil, discoveries have increased the EDR for condensate by 44% and its SDR by 23%.

16.9 PETROLEUM RESOURCES

Crude oil
Condensate
LPG
Sales gas




gigalitres
million barrels
gigalitres
million barrels
gigalitres
million barrels
billion cubic feet
trillion cubic feet

Economic demonstrated resources
1 January 1998
266
1,674
192
1,209
184
1,157
1,494
53
1 January 1999
243
1,528
273
1,715
243
1,527
1,989
70
1 January 2000
219
1,378
283
1,780
274
1,726
2,105
74
1 January 2001
180
1,129
276
1,735
274
1,725
2,256
80
Subeconomic demonstrated resources
1 January 1998
15
97
87
549
129
808
1,285
45
1 January 1999
31
196
54
338
71
447
869
31
1 January 2000
55
345
61
384
75
471
1,173
41
1 January 2001
61
386
107
673
73
460
1,610
57

Source: Geoscience Australia, 'Oil and Gas Resources of Australia', 1999, 2000 and 2001 issues.


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