Resources on track for record FY19

WHILE Australia’s resources exports are poised to reach a record high, there are growing risks.
Resources on track for record FY19 Resources on track for record FY19 Resources on track for record FY19 Resources on track for record FY19 Resources on track for record FY19

Staff reporter

The report showed Australia's resources and energy export earnings remained on track for a record-breaking year.

Export earnings look set to reach A$264 billion in the 2019 financial year and pull in more than half a trillion dollars over the two years to 2019-20.

The weaker Australian dollar, high coal prices and rapid growth in LNG exports are driving the strong figures.

Coal is expected to overtake iron ore as Australia's largest resource and energy export during the year, while Australia is on track to pass Qatar as the world's largest LNG exporter in 2019.

However, the report warned the headline figures masked growing risks.

"The world is nine years into the post-GFC recovery, and the peak of the current cycle has clearly passed," Chief Economist Mark Cully said.

"The key risk to the commodity outlook thus lies in the ‘double whammy': the potential dual impact of growing trade tensions and a slowdown in global economic activity."

The recent fall in oil prices represents another risk, threatening to reduce LNG, crude and condensate export earnings if sustained.

The report said the world industrial cycle appeared to have peaked in 2018, though the extent "depends on whether China can maintain economic growth as the US-China trade dispute impacts".

Global growth estimates for 2018-2020 were revised down 0.2 percentage points to 3.7% per year.

Iron ore is forecast to decline to US$51 per tonne by 2020 due to slowing economic growth and a well-supplied seaborne market.

Metallurgical coal, which jumped to over $220/t this quarter, should fall to $145/t by 2020, while thermal coal is tipped to drop from $105/t this year to $74/t in 2020.

The uranium price is expected to remain at $28 per pound in 2020.

The report was more bullish on copper, which is estimated to jump to over $8000/t by 2020.

Nickel prices are set to rise to $13,950/t next year and sit at $13,750/t in 2020, while zinc should average $2775/t next year and $2625/t in 2020.

While Australian lithium production is expected to continue to rise, prices for hydroxide should fall from $16,500/t this year to $12,700/t in 2020.