Geoscience Australia and its predecessors have prepared annual assessments of Australia's mineral resources since 1975. The resource data and related information from Australia's Identified Mineral Resources provide input into Australian Government policy decisions and programs associated with the minerals sector and sustainable development of resources.
Australia's Identified Mineral Resources 2012 presents estimates of Australia's mineral resources at end of December 2011 for all major and several minor mineral commodities (Table 1). This national minerals inventory is based on published company reports of Ore Reserves and Mineral Resources. The national resource estimates provide a long-term view of what is likely to be mined. National total for the Joint Ore Reserve Committee (JORC) Code Ore Reserves are compiled for each commodity, which provides the industry view of what is likely to be mined in the short to medium term. Mine production data are based on figures from the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics. World rankings of Australia's mineral resources have been calculated mainly from information in publications of the United States Geological Survey. A summary of significant industry developments also is presented.
National Resource Classification System
The mineral resource classification system used for Australia's national inventory is based on two general criteria:
- the geological certainty of the existence of the mineral resource, and
- the economic feasibility of its extraction over the long term.
For a full description of the system see Appendix 2 ‘National Classification System for Identified Mineral Resources'.
The description of the National Classification System shows how mineral resources reported by companies under the Australasian Code for Reporting of Exploration Results, Mineral Resources and Ore Reserves (referred to as the JORC Code) are used when compiling national total resources. The classification category Economic Demonstrated Resources (EDR) is used for national totals of economic resources and provides a basis for meaningful comparisons of Australia's economic resources with those of other nations. Long-term trends in EDR for bauxite, black coal (recoverable), iron ore, gold, copper, lead, zinc, nickel, mineral sands and uranium (recoverable) are presented in Figure 1 and the reasons for significant changes in resource trends are noted.
Some mineral deposits are not accessible for mining currently because of government policies or various environmental and land access restrictions such as location within National and State parks and conservation zones, military training areas or environmental protection areas, as well as areas over which mining approval has not been granted by traditional owners. Accessible Economic Demonstrated Resources (AEDR), as shown in Table 1, represent the resources within the EDR category that are accessible for mining.
|JORC Reserves (a)
(% of Accessible EDR)
|Economic (EDR) (b)||Subeconomic|
|Antimony||kt Sb||52 (50%)||106||9||0||204||106||1.6||1800||169|
|in situ||Mt||71 146||1 374||5 345||79 013|
|recoverable||Mt||19 225(38%)||57 538||822||3 986||57 305||50 656||461(h)||665 000(i)||6 185(i)(j)|
|in situ||Mt||49 135||37 465||16 873||121 198|
||44 219||33 402||15 185||100 664||34 150||66.73(l)||195 000(i)||1044(m)|
|Cobalt||kt Co||422 (35%)||1204||237||101||1219||1204||3.85(n)||7334||98.35|
|Copper||Mt Cu||24.2 (28%)||86.7||1.8||0.6||43.9||86.7||0.96||690||16.1|
|Chromium||kt Cr||0||0||0||0||3450||0||66.1(o)||>147 700||(p)|
|Gold||t Au||4131 (45%)||9153||487||135||4513||9112||258||52 740||2700|
|iron ore||Mt||15 032 (40%)||37 762||1414||1507||61 489||37 762||488||168 762||2814|
|iron (contained Fe)||Mt Fe
||7804 (43%)||18 152||501||736||29 204||18 152||n.a.||81 101||n.a.|
|Lead||Mt Pb||12.4 (35%)||35.9||3.4||0.2||22.2||35.9||0.62||92||4.6|
|Lithium||kt Li||506 (50%)||1006||0||0.1||131||1006||11.7(s)||13 036||34(r)|
|Magnesite||Mt MgCO3||37.5 (11%)||330||22||35||836||330||0.644(t)||8750||20.65(r)|
|Manganese ore||Mt||143 (72%)||197||23||167||313||197||6.96
|Molybdenum||kt Mo||0||167||1220||0.5||562||167||0||10 100||250|
|Nickel||Mt Ni||7.04 (35%)||20.4||3.5||0.6||18.4||20.4||0.215||76.0||1.81|
|Niobium||kt Nb||115 (56%)
|phosphate rock(v)||Mt||280 (30%)||945||445||0||1813||945||(w)||71 000||191|
|contained P2O5||Mt||45 (31%)||148||61||0||282||148||n.a.||n.a.||n.a.|
|PGE (Pt, Pd, Os, Ir, Ru, Rh)||t metal||0.01 (25%)||4.7||135.3||35.3||148.2||0.4||0.441||66 000||207|
|Rare earths (REO & Y2O3)||Mt||0.64 (31%)||2.07||0.41||34.48||25.00||2.07||0||114||0.13|
|Shale oil||GL||0||0||213||2074||1272(x)||0||0||763 139(i)||1.165(i)|
|Silver||kt Ag||27.8 (32%)||87.9||2.9||0.6||39.9||87.9||1.73||549||23.6|
|Tantalum||kt Ta||29 (47%)||62
|Tin||kt Sn||119 (49%)||243||65
|Tungsten||kt W||182 (48%)||376||11.1||1.4||107||376
|Uranium||kt U||349 (32%)||1196||33||0||589||1082
|Vanadium||kt V||1230 (81%)||1519||10 324||1713||10 544||1519||0||15 000||62|
|Zinc||Mt Zn||22.8 (33%)||68.3||1.0||0.8||27.0||68.3||1.51||262||12.5|
t = tonne; L = litre; kt = kilotonnes (1000 t); Mt = million tonnes (1000 000 t); Mc = million carats (1000 000 c);
GL = gigalitre (1000 000 000 L); n.a. = not available.
- Joint Ore Reserves Committee (JORC) Proved and Probable Ore Reserves as stated in company annual reports and reports to Australian Securities Exchange.
- Economic Demonstrated Resources (EDR) includes Joint Ore Reserves Committee (JORC) Reserves, Measured and Indicated Mineral Resources.
- Total Inferred Resources in economic, subeconomic and undifferentiated categories.
- Accessible Economic Demonstrated Resources (AEDR) is the portion of total EDR that is accessible for mining. AEDR does not include resources that are inaccessible for mining because of environmental restrictions, government policies or military lands.
- Source: Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics (BREE).
- Sources: Geoscience Australia for Australian figures, United States Geological Survey (USGS) Mineral Commodities Summaries for other countries.
- World mine production for 2010, mostly United States Geological Survey (USGS) estimates.
- Raw coal.
- Source: World Energy Council (WEC). Survey of Energy Resources 2010.
- Saleable coal.
- There are no JORC code ore reserve estimates available for brown coal.
- Source: Victoria's Minerals, Petroleum & Extractive Industries 2010-11 Statistical Review. Victorian Department of Primary Industries.
- Source: World Coal Association.
- Source: Western Australian Department of Mines and Petroleum.
- 96 573 t of chromite expressed as Cr2O3 (Source: Western Australian Department of Mines and Petroleum).
- World production of 23 Mt of ‘marketable chromite ore' as reported by United States Geological Survey (USGS).
- Source: USGS Commodity Summaries 2012. Note - world resource figures are for industrial diamonds only. No data provided for resources of gem diamonds.
- Excludes USA.
- Calculated assuming a grade of 6% Li2O in spodumene concentrates.
- Production for 2010-11 (Source: Queensland Government. Department of Natural Resources and Mines).
- Not reported by mining companies.
- Phosphate rock is reported as economic at grades ranging from 8.7% to 30.2% P2O5.
- Phosphate Hill (Queensland) produced 2.49 Mt of phosphate rock in 2011. Christmas Island produced 604 569 t of phosphate rock and 62 410 t of phosphate dust in 2011.
- Total Inferred Resource excludes a ‘total potential' shale oil resource of the Toolebuc Formation, Queensland of 245 000 GL that was estimated by Geoscience Australia's predecessor, the Bureau of Mineral Resources, and CSIRO in 1983.
- Galaxy Resources produced 0.465 kt of tantalum concentrate averaging 3.3% Ta2O5 at Mount Cattlin deposit.
- Thorium resources reduced by 10 per cent to account for mining and processing losses.
- For all States except WA where actual figures not available.
- Source: Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development/Nuclear Energy Agency (OECD/NEA) and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) (2011). Compiled from the most recent data for resources recoverable at costs of less than US$130/kg U.
- Source: World Nuclear Association.