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AUS:Mineral exports eased in 1998-99

ABARE Media Release

9 September 1999

Mineral exports eased in 1998-99 in difficult trading conditions

'Export earnings by the Australian minerals and energy sector fell by 4.5 per cent to $38.8 billion in 1998-99', ABARE's acting Executive Director, Mr Vivek Tulpulé, said today in releasing the latest issue of Australian Mineral Statistics.

Mr Tulpulé noted that this was the first fall in annual export earnings in real terms for the sector since 1994-95 but remains the second highest export performance by the sector. 'The weaker sector export performance reflected both lower Australian dollar prices and lower export volumes for a range of minerals and energy commodities', Mr Tulpulé said.

Commodities recording falls of more than $100 million in export revenue were crude oil, iron and steel, coking coal, nickel, refinery petroleum products and LNG. LPG export revenues fell by $70 million.

However, Mr Tulpulé also noted that there were a number of industries that had improved their export earnings significantly. The commodities for which export earnings increased by more than $20 million in 1998-99 included copper, zinc, gold, iron ore, diamonds, titanium dioxide pigment and aluminium. 'In most cases rises in export volumes were sufficient to offset lower unit returns', Mr Tulpulé said.

The index of export prices of Australian mineral resources (export unit returns) fell by 13 per cent in 1998-99 compared with 1997-98. The fall in the energy minerals component was 13.5 per cent, while the metals and related minerals component declined by 12.3 per cent.

Mr Tulpulé also noted that mineral resource imports reached a new high in 1998-99 of $8986 million, an increase of $442 million (5 per cent) on 1997-98. The main commodities contributing to this rise in imports were gold, which increased by $359 million as Australia reprocessed Asian scrap, refinery petroleum products, which rose by $102 million, and crude oil, which was up $85 million.

ABARE's latest forecasts of minerals production, exports and prices for 1998-99 and 1999-2000, and analysis of key factors affecting markets, will be available in the September quarter 1999 issue of Australian Commodities, to be released on 14 September 1999.

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