Creating Wealth Through Minerals Processing - The Path to Recovery

Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 4
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1988
The sharp deterioration in Au~tralia'S ternn of trade in recent years and the accumulating national debt highlight the need for a restructuring of the economy which is highly dependent upon primary agricultural and mineral commodity exports (figure 1). Table I gives an indication of the value that can be added to raw material by mineral processing. Significantly higher value is added through downstream manufacturing. In 1987, the mining and rural sectors accounted for 47010 and 38010 respectively of total exports valued at $35,782 million (figure 2). The export contribution from minerals comprised $12,266 mil- lion from unprocessed ores and concentrates and $4,668 million from metals and processed minerals including some simple manufactures. Coal accounted for 450/s of total primary mineral exports. Iron ore and alumina are other important mineral exports, while gold and aluminium are major metal exports. (Figure 3) Australia's minerals are now traded in a much more competi- tive and oversupplied market in contrast to the 1960's and 1970's period which was characterised by increasing exports of largely unprocessed ores and concentrates. Since the early 1980's (I cI) resscd )ver~cas nutrkcts and km rununodlity liriccs ha~c hcen the product of excess capacity installed to satisfy a forecast high growth in demand which never eventuated due to the world reces- sion. During this period the emphasis on technology development was focussed on reducing costs through increased production effi- ciencies in order to maintain competitiveness.
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