Australian energy and resource exports are forecast to reach record levels this financial year, driven by high commodity prices and a weaker Australian dollar.
The latest outlook in the Resources and Energy Quarterly published for the December quarter predicts exports will reach $379 billion during 2021-22.
Despite the impacts to the economy of COVID-19, the resources and energy export sector is expected to be up 22 per cent on the previous record of $310 billion set during the previous financial year.
While iron ore prices have fallen, a stronger result for base metals, coal and LNG has been able to offset it.
The forecast also predicted coal and LNG prices to remain high going forward due to strong demand and ongoing shortages for the commodities.
However, the quarterly report also foreshadowed a noticeable decline in iron ore earnings as demand for the product slows around the world.
The report also predicted demand for minerals such as lithium, nickel, zinc and copper will benefit the sector.
Resources Minister Keith Pitt said the sector had continued to be a key driver of the national economy.
“The resources sector has risen above the challenges of the pandemic and will continue to deliver for our nation in the years ahead,” Mr Pitt said.
“These are outstanding results that will provide further jobs and opportunities in our regions and benefit all Australians.”
LNG exports are expected to rise from $30 billion to $63 billion by 2021-22.
The value of thermal coal exports will also more than double from $16 billion to $35 billion, while metallurgical coal will rise from $23 billion to $50 billion.
Despite the considerable rise in the sector during the financial year, a small drop is expected shortly afterwards.
Energy and resource export earnings are forecast to drop to $311 billion by 2022-23.
Mr Pitt said 367 projects outlined in the report had an estimated value of $504 billion, which include hydrogen, ammonia and carbon capture and storage projects.
“This means jobs for Australians,” he said.
“Job estimates from proponents of committed projects suggests around 25,100 construction jobs and 8300 ongoing jobs will be created.”
It is expected most of those jobs will be in regional Western Australia and Queensland.