Australia has a robust and world-leading mining industry evidenced by a top five position as a producer for some 20 commodities including gold, aluminium, iron ore, rare earths, mineral sands, zinc, lead and coal. In the 2016‑17 financial year, mining accounted for 7.4% of gross domestic product. In addition, the mining industry employed more than 230 000 people in 2016, with many more employed by related industries.
Given the importance of mineral resources to the Australian economy, Geoscience Australia publishes an annual assessment of the nation’s mineral reserves (Table 1 and Table 2) and resource estimates (Table 3) for all major, and some minor, commodities. This assessment provides useful long-term indicators of potential resource life and future supply capability. Its broad outlook should assist with government policy decisions as well as programs and planning associated with the minerals sector and the sustainable development of Australia's mineral resources.
It is also of interest to note Australia's position as a global source of minerals as many countries are dependent on reliable supply from Australia for their own economies (Table 4). This leads to consideration of how long Australia could potentially provide the world with mineral resources (Table 5).
Australia's Identified Mineral Resources 2017 presents estimates of Australia’s mineral reserves and resources as at 31 December 2016. The data in the national minerals inventory is mainly sourced from published company reports, but includes some confidential and historical data. The highest category in the national inventory is Economic Demonstrated Resources (EDR) which, in essence, combines the Joint Ore Reserves Committee (JORC) Code categories of Proved and Probable Ore Reserves and most of Measured and Indicated Mineral Resources.