[Ferro-Alloys.com] Iron ore was one of the most resilient sectors in Australia's resources industry during Covid-19, with another record-breaking year of profits in the 2019-20 fiscal year to 30 June.
Profits in the Australian coal sector halved over the same period and oil and gas producer profits fell on a year earlier, according to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
Operating profit before tax for Australia's metal ore miners, which is dominated by iron ore miners, reported a 51.3pc rise to a record A$70.53bn ($54.58bn) in 2019-20 from A$46.61bn in 2018-19, the ABS said in its Australian industry 2019-20 data released today. Iron ore is Australia's largest export by value and volume, accounting for around 36pc of Australia's total merchandise goods in the first nine months of the 2020-21 fiscal year.
Operating profit before tax from metal ore miners represented around two thirds of total mining profits in 2019-20, which rose to a record A$105.59bn from the previous record of A$97.41bn in 2018-19 when metal ore miners only accounted for 47.8pc of total mining profits, the ABS said.
The rise in total mining profits was accompanied by higher income to a record A$337.19bn in 2019-20 from the previous record of A$316.18bn in 2018-19, with income for total metal ore miners again representing the largest contribution. Total income for metal ore miners rose to a record A$166.05bn in 2019-20 from A$135.91bn in 2018-19, the ABS data showed. Total income for iron ore miners rose to A$115.18bn from A$89.03bn over the same period.
The increased share of operating profits from the metal ore mining sector also reflected a decline in profits in the coal sector when operating profit before tax dropped by 47.8pc to A$16.16bn in 2019-20 from A$30.97bn in 2018-19, the ABS data showed. Total income for coal miners dropped to a three-year low of A$73.28bn in 2019-20 from A$87.04bn in 2018-19, the ABS said.
Operating profits before tax in the Australian oil and gas sector also declined, albeit at a lower rate, through a drop to A$17.02bn in 2019-20 from A$18.69bn in 2018-19, the ABS said. Despite the decline in profits, income for the upstream sector rose to A$72.04bn from A$69.83bn over the same period.
Australia is the world's largest exporter of iron ore and hard coking coal and is the second largest shipper of thermal coal. Australia and Qatar share top spot as the world's largest LNG shipper.