Trade and investment

Australia is in the top 2 exporters in the world for iron ore, coal, LNG, bauxite and alumina.

There was more than $75 billion invested in the mining industry in 2015–16.

Resource and energy exports were valued at $204 billion, accounting for 50% of Australia’s goods and services exports (2016–17).

The Australian resources sector is a global industry and is recognised as a world leader. It relies on foreign investment and technology to develop and operate projects, and open trade and markets to secure customers for our exports. Given Australia’s role as a global resources leader, other countries seeking to improve their own resources base regularly draw on Australia’s technical and regulatory expertise.

Resources commodities are Australia’s largest export sector, accounting for more than half of Australia’s exports, and underpins our economic and trade relationship with a number of countries, such as Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and China. These relationships, some of which have been in place since the 1950s, have helped shape the size and sophistication of the resources sector and the economic and employment opportunities it provides. Growing economies in South Asia, South East Asia and other parts of the world, as well as new technologies requiring a broader range of commodities, are creating new opportunities for Australia’s resources sector.

The Australian Government will continue to support the development of the sector by providing a diversified, flexible, resilient and dynamic economic environment in which the resources sector can compete and grow to adapt to new markets and capture emerging opportunities. This includes support to access new markets and the sustainable development of the resources sector, attract private investment and encourage innovative technologies.

Major trading partners

Australia’s major resource export markets include:

For more details on our trade and investment relationships with various countries see DFAT's trade and economic fact sheets.

How is the Department involved?

The department promotes current and new investment in the Australian resources sector, ensures market access and trade with new resources markets, discusses resources regulatory issues with other countries and international organisations, and contributes to multilateral fora on resources issues.

Export controls

The Australian Government is responsible for issuing permits for the export of rough diamonds, uranium and liquefied natural gas (LNG). For more on Australia’s export controls please see Export controls.

International networks

On behalf of the Australian Government, the department participates in regular bilateral minerals and energy consultations with Australia's major trading partners and other stakeholders to identify and facilitate commercial opportunities for Australian businesses. The aim of this engagement is to:

  • Encourage trade and investment
  • Support science, commercialisation and innovation in the resources sector
  • Ensure best international practice regulation and streamline regulation of business.

The department has resources-focused counsellors in Tokyo, Beijing and New Delhi to support and build trade and investment relationships in these countries. For more information and contact details for our current counsellors, please refer to the Department's Overseas Counsellor Network.

Australia participates in a number of resources-focused intergovernmental organisations and forums to exchange information and expertise.

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