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Resources and energy exports hit record high

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Australia’s resources and energy exports increased by 15% in 2011 to a record $190 billion, according to a Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics (BREE) report released today.

“The record value of resources and energy exports in 2011 reflects increased earnings for the vast majority of resources and energy commodities, including iron ore, coal, LNG, oil and base metals,” BREE executive director and chief economic professor Quentin Grafton said.

Export prices for minerals increased by 9%, while export unit returns for energy commodities increased by 20%. The increases came despite a 12% increase in the value of the Australian dollar.

The growth trends are expected to continue, despite reports China will slow growth to 7.5% in 2012, according to Paul Bloxham, chief economist at HSBC Global Research.

“We think commodity prices have probably peaked in the third quarter of last year. They will come down a bit but will still stay at fairly high levels. Volumes will come on stream more strongly because investment in infrastructure will allow faster export this year and next year,” Bloxham said.

“China is slowing down in 2012, but they still have a significant way to go to reach first-world levels of hard infrastructure we already have.”

In 2011 iron ore exports were up 20% or $AU9.9 billion on 2010 to $59.3 billion. Thermal coal was up 18% to $15.6 billion, liquefied natural gas (LNG) rose 16% to $11.1 billion, metallurgical coal jumped 6% to $31.3 billion and crude oil and other refinery feedstock soared by 12% to $12.3 billion.

Iron and steel exports dropped 22% or $311 million to $1.1 billion, liquefied petroleum gas exports were down 10% to $969 million and refined silver dropped 39% to $144 million.

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