Australia's energy and resources exports will be worth a record $278 billion this financial year, a new report reveals.
The report released last Friday outlines a five-year forecast for the value, volume and price of the nation's resources and energy commodity exports.
Commodity prices are expected to decline in 2019-20, which will see export earnings drop slightly to $272 billion.
Australia is the world's largest exporter of iron ore and the commodity remains Australia’s biggest export earner. Last year Australia sent 836 million tonnes offshore – enough to build 10,050 Sydney Harbour bridges.
Iron ore export earnings are forecast to increase by 21% to $74 billion in 2018-19, the second highest amount on record.
But they are expected to drop to $60 billion by 2023-24 as prices fall because of falling demand from China, which accounts for 68% of world imports.
Thermal coal exports on the rise
Australia is the second largest exporter of thermal coal in the world, with 208 million tonnes exported last year to the value of $26 billion.
One tonne of coal powers an average household for about four months.
Thermal coal export volumes are forecast to grow from 203 million tonnes in 2017-18 to 225 million tonnes by 2023-24.
Export earnings are predicted to reach a record $27 billion in 2018/19 before declining to $20 billion by 2023-24.
Ongoing uncertainty in coal exports to China
China imports the most thermal coal but it also poses the greatest risk to prices due to ongoing uncertainty over its import policy.
In recent months there have been delays on coal imports being processed at Chinese ports.
Prices could be pushed lower if China imports less of the energy resource.
Liquefied natural gas exports, which totalled 70m tonnes last year, are also helping to fuel the Australian economy.
The value of LNG exports was forecast to reach a peak of $51 billion in 2019-20 before easing to $41 billion in 2023-24.
Australia is currently the second largest LNG exporter in the world, but is expected to surpass Qatar this year to become the world’s largest until 2024.