Natural resources and energy
Australia has large energy and mineral
resources. The country is one of the world's leading
exporters of coal, iron ore, bauxite, aluminum, zinc and
liquefied natural gas. In addition, Australia is one of
the world's leading producers of uranium and industrial
diamonds. Copper, gold, lead, nickel, tin, silver,
titanium and more are also mined.
The mining industry has contributed to strong
economic growth during the 2000s. Many of the mines are
located in Queensland and Western Australia.
Major exports by Australia with a full list of the top products exported by the country. Includes trade value in U.S. dollars and the percentage for each product category.
About a quarter of the world's uranium is extracted
in Australia, but the quarry is surrounded by political
and economic constraints, as Australia has decided not
to use nuclear power. Instead, production is exported.
Exports to China have been controversial. At times, the
construction of new uranium mines has been stopped by
the environmental movement.
Since 1966, oil and gas have been extracted in the
sea and on the mainland. Oil production has declined
since the turn of the millennium, and oil and oil
products are imported to fill the needs that exist. At
the same time, liquefied natural gas has become
increasingly important and there are seven plants for
the production of this. Gas pipelines have been drawn to
Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide, among others, while
Australia has been transformed from importer to exporter
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Oil and oil products accounted for 39 percent of
energy consumption in mid-2010, coal for 33 percent and
gas for 24 percent. Renewable energy sources
contributed 5 percent.
Domestic electricity comes largely from oil and
coal-fired thermal power plants.
Aborigines, and other indigenous people, have long
protested that their home areas were exploited by
Australian and foreign mining companies. In 1998, a law
was established that gives Aborigines the right to large
land areas, even where minerals have been found.
However, several legal disputes have taken place over
the years regarding the exploitation of such land, as
the legislation also takes into account the economic
interests of the mining industry and the state.
In 2008, Australia agreed to the Kyoto agreement on
greenhouse gas emission limits. In the climate agreement
in Paris 2015, the country has undertaken to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions by 20–28 percent of the levels
in 2005 by 2030.
In the summer of 2012, the government introduced a
controversial carbon tax for companies with particularly
high emissions (see above). But the bourgeois coalition
that came to power after the 2013 parliamentary
elections lifted the carbon dioxide tax in 2014.
How the country should meet its commitments to reduce
emissions has subsequently remained a debated issue. Old
coal-fired power plants with high emissions have been
closed, but at the same time problems have arisen when
there are not enough other energy sources to replace.
The energy shortage has widened when producers of
liquefied natural gas have prioritized exports rather
than delivering inland. Attempts to replace coal-fired
power plants with renewable energy from wind turbines
and solar energy from the mid-2010s have led to
recurrent power outages in South Australia due to
unstable supply. In September 2017, Prime Minister
Turnbull announced that investments would be made in
so-called clean coal through more environmentally
Australia has environmental problems such as soil
erosion and desertification, while unique animal species
and plants have disappeared due to agriculture and
industries. At the same time, researchers state that the
corals in the Great Barrier Reef are threatened by
During the 2000s, parts of Australia suffered for
several consecutive years of persistent drought (but
also severe flooding). This has placed higher demands on
the governors at federal and state level to try to
secure the water supply, for example through dam
construction, water recycling systems and desalination
plants. Water problems have led to higher prices and
rationing, not least for agriculture.
The environmental destruction associated with secret
British nuclear weapons tests in the 1950s has been a
prolonged dispute. An agreement was finally concluded
with the UK which promised to contribute financially to
the rehabilitation of the experimental areas, where
dangerous radiation is still being measured today. The
Australian Government, in turn, promised financial
compensation for Aborigines affected by land
FACTS - ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT
Energy use per person
5 490 kilos of oil equivalent (2015)
Electricity consumption per person
10078 kWh, kWh (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions in total
361 262 thousand tonnes (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions per inhabitant
15.4 tonnes (2014)
The share of energy from renewable sources
9.2 percent (2015)
No clear drill bit
No party will be clearly victorious in the
parliamentary elections. Labour's Julia Gillard remains
as prime minister at the head of a minority government,
supported by some independent MPs.
Urine residents get a sea area
Residents of the islands in Torres Strait, a special
group of native residents of Australia, are granted the
right of origin to a sea area of over 40,000 square
miles by a Queensland court. It is the largest sea area
awarded to the indigenous population.
Prime Minister Rudd is forced to resign
Following an internal vote in Labor, Kevin Rudd is
forced to step down as party leader and is replaced by
Julia Gillard, who will also become prime minister.
Indian students protest
Indian students in Australia are demonstrating
against some 70, in their opinion racially motivated,
attacks against them during the past year and India says
they are concerned about the violence against Indian
Australia announces plans for a military upgrade and
modernization for $ 70 billion. The program includes a
doubling of the submarine fleet and a purchase of 100
so-called Stealth Fighter aircraft from the USA.
Agreement with Asean signed
Australia, together with New Zealand, signs a free
trade agreement with the countries of the Southeast
Asian cooperation organization Asean.
Deadly forest fires
More than 170 people are killed in the severe forest
fires in the state of Victoria in the southeast.