About Australia’s Resources Sector

  • The sector employed around 229,000 people in 2016–17, more than double the direct employment levels of the early 2000s.
  • The sector paid $25 billion in wages and salaries in 2015–16.
  • The sector contributed $204 billion in export earnings from minerals and energy commodities in 2016–17.

Australia's resources sector covers the exploration, extraction and processing of mineral and energy resources including coal, gas, iron ore, uranium, nickel, bauxite, gold, lead, copper, zinc and diamonds.

Our abundant resources, stable economy, highly skilled workforce and world-leading equipment and technology services sector have made Australia one of the world’s top suppliers of resources, attracting international investment. The sector has a strong history of innovation, and has developed many specialised technologies to increase productivity, achieve social objectives and generate value for the Australian economy.

The resources sector has laid the foundations for Australia’s high-growth, high-employment economy and helped us avoid the worst effects of multiple global downturns. It has also contributed to Australia’s development, particularly in regional and remote areas. The sector will continue to shape Australia’s future prosperity, delivering national income, growth and well-paid jobs for decades to come.

Roles and responsibilities

There are three tiers of government in Australia: the Australian Government, the six state and two territory governments, and local governments. Under Australian law, minerals and energy resources are owned by the Australian or state/territory governments rather than private individuals, and businesses must pay royalties or taxes on the resources they take from the ground or ocean.

The Australian Government has powers over resources located outside the first three nautical miles of the territorial sea—known as ‘offshore’. The states and the Northern Territory have authority over resources on their lands or inside the first three nautical miles of the territorial sea—known as ‘onshore’.

For more details please see the page on the roles and responsibilities of different governments.

Australia’s major resources commodities

The department has policies on many of Australia's major resource commodities. For more information please see Australia's major resource commodities page. 

Trade and investment

The resources sector is global and relies on open trade and markets. The department is involved in growing our bilateral relationships with major consuming countries and providing an internationally competitive investment environment.

For more information on Australia’s major markets and how the department is involved please see the trade and investment page.

Supporting industries

The resources sector is supported by a well-established local supply-chain that also export their expertise and technologies to projects around the world.

For more information on supporting industries and related government programs please see:

Related pages


Email resources@industry.gov.au

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