Export earnings from Australian mineral resources rose to a record $43.8b in 1999-2000, an increase of $5.0b or 13%. This stronger performance in 1999-2000 reflected significantly higher export prices and volumes for the majority of minerals and energy commodities. In particular, average unit prices for oil and gas exports increased by between 34 and 91%. Reflecting the general rise in prices, the index of unit returns from mineral resource exports (prices received in $A terms) increased by 10% in 1999-2000.
Coal remained the biggest export earning mining commodity, with a value of $8.3b in 1999-2000, representing 9% of total merchandise exports. Other major exports were gold ($5.0b, 5%), crude petroleum oils ($4.9b, 5%), iron ore ($3.8b, 4%) and alumina ($3.4b, 3%).
Some of the commodities for which export earnings increased in 1999-2000 included: crude oil, up $3,382m (180%); nickel, up $1,018m (120%); alumina, up $560m (19%); Liquified Natural Gas (LNG), up $542m (37%); aluminium, up $460m (16%); refinery petroleum products, up $350m (40%); Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) up $340m (114%); and copper, up $238m (17%).
Commodities for which export earnings fell in 1999-2000 included gold, down $1,455m (23%); steaming coal, down $652m (17%); and coking coal, down $279m (5%). Lower export prices, and in some cases lower export volumes, contributed to these falls in export earnings.
Compared with 1998-99, Australian exports of crude oil in 1999-2000 rose by 55% to 19,200 megalitres (ML) and LPG exports rose by 14% to 1.56 megatonnes (MT), while automotive gasoline exports fell by 11% to 1,371 ML. Export earnings from crude oil and condensate rose by 205% to $4.9b, those from LNG rose by 37% to $1.9b, and those from LPG rose by 118% to $648m.