Mining export revenue leads Australia’s economic recovery

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The MCA is the leading advocate for Australia's world class minerals industry, promoting and enhancing sustainability, profitability and competitiveness. The MCA represents a world-leading minerals sector that is dynamic, diverse, sustainable and valued by all Australians. Read more.

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Trade data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that mining has powered Australia’s economic recovery during the COVID-19 pandemic with record high export revenue for iron ore, gold and copper in 2020.

Australia’s resources exports – including minerals, metals and energy commodities – last year generated $270 billion in export revenue for the economy and accounted for 62 per cent of total export revenue.

Iron ore increased by 20 per cent (total was $116 billion for 2020), breaking the $100 billion export revenue ceiling for the first time in a boom calendar year for commodity exports.

The last month of 2020 recorded $12.6 billion in iron ore export revenue, breaking the previous record of $11.2 billion in October 2020.

The future remains exciting for Australian iron ore exports with China expecting continued growth and new frontiers opening up in South and East Asia – noted in the MCA’s new Iron Ore: When Quality Meets Opportunity report which outlined how Australia’s iron ore will support growth, create jobs and sustain regional communities for many decades.

The iron ore industry is well positioned as a low-cost producer of world-class iron ore to supply Asia’s high efficiency large steel mills.

Gold and copper exports also set new revenue records following several years of significant exploration investment.

Gold exports were up 12 per cent in 2020 and totalled $27 billion as a result of high prices and growing production across the country.

Copper, a rare and sought after mineral, increased its export revenue from $10.2 billion to $10.4 billion.




Iron Ore

$96 billion

$116 billion


$24.2 billion

$27.1 billion


$10.2 billion

$10.4 billion

During a very challenging 2020, the Australian minerals industry drove prosperity in Australia, making substantial contributions to investment, exports, wages, jobs and government revenue.

There are 240,000 people directly employed by the resources sector and a total of 1.1 million direct and indirect jobs in the mining and mining equipment, technology and services (METS) sectors.

Mining companies also support thousands of regional businesses around Australia and their workers who provide essential services that keep the industry operating.

In addition to new jobs across the nation and paying its fair share of taxes and royalties, the mining industry also supports local communities through backing local businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic and donations to hospitals, charities, child care centres and schools.


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