Australia's Identified Mineral Resources 2023 Introduction

Last updated:1 March 2024


Australia's rich and varied minerals endowment has attracted explorers for many thousands of years and today we walk in the footsteps of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders— Australia's original mappers and miners. Australia's rich geology has underpinned the nation's development and is now foundational to the implementation of large-scale emissions reduction technologies needed to address the challenge of climate change. Australia's world-leading mining sector is expanding beyond traditional mineral commodities such as iron, coal and gold, so we can supply the nation, and our global partners, with the critical and strategic mineral commodities needed for modern economies and the transition to a net-zero economy.

In 2022, Australia's mining exports (excluding petroleum products) were worth nearly $362 billion1, the sector accounted for 15% of gross domestic product2 and employed some 287,000 people3 with many more employed by related industries. Mineral exploration spending exceeded $4 billion with gold, iron ore and copper leading the way, with large increases seen in uranium (up 76%) and minor metals, a category that includes many critical minerals (up 66%). Exploration leads to discovery and in 2022 Australia held the world's largest economic resources of gold, iron ore, lead, nickel, rutile, uranium, zinc and zircon.

During this period, Australia was a top five global producer of 15 mineral commodities, namely bauxite, coal, cobalt, gold, iron ore, lead, lithium, manganese, nickel, rare earths, rutile, tantalum, uranium, zinc and zircon. Australia remained a leading supplier of many of the critical minerals4 used to generate and store renewable energy, build electric vehicles and manufacture future-facing technologies and electronic devices. For example, Australia retained its world number one ranking for lithium production in 2022, providing 52% of global supply to meet rising demand in the electric vehicle sector. Australia also retained its number one production ranking for the bulk commodities of bauxite, iron ore and rutile and, in 2022, its world ranking for rare earths production increased one place to third.

Also in 2022, the Australian Government began a review of Australia's Critical Minerals List, a key part of the Critical Minerals Strategy5. The review was published in December 20236, and adjusted in February 20247 to include nickel. The updated Critical Minerals List has expanded to 31 commodities. It now includes arsenic, fluorine, molybdenum, nickel, selenium and tellurium, with helium removed. In addition, the Australian Government published a Strategic Materials List8 comprising aluminium, copper, phosphorous, tin and zinc in recognition of their importance to the global transition to net zero and broader strategic applications.

About this publication

Geoscience Australia and its predecessors have prepared the annual assessment of Australia's mineral resources since 1975. Thus, this publication—Australia's Identified Mineral Resources (AIMR)—is able to draw on over 40 years of data to reveal trends in reserve estimates, resource estimates and mine production over a range of periods. This assessment also provides useful long-term indicators of potential resource life and future supply capability, including for many critical minerals. AIMR is designed to assist government decision-making on policy, enable mineral-sector program planning, and contribute to the sustainable development of Australia's mineral resources.

AIMR presents Australia's Ore Reserves at operating mines (Table 1) and all deposits (Table 2), also longer-term estimates of the nation's Identified Mineral Resources (Table 3) and changes in resource estimates and production from the previous year (Table 4). It is also of interest to note Australia's ranking as a global source of minerals (Table 5) as many countries are dependent on reliable supply from Australia for their own economies.

The estimates in AIMR 2023 of Australia's Ore Reserves and Mineral Resources are as at 31 December 2022, reflecting the status of the national inventory as the nation emerged from COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and other impacts. The data in this and future reports will, therefore, inform government and industry going forward when assessing the short and long-term effects of this health and economic emergency on Australia's mining sector. Another trend of note is the focus on exploration and development of projects for critical minerals and other strategic resources. Minerals on the Australian Critical Minerals List and the Australian Strategic Materials List are noted in the Commodity Summaries section of AIMR.

The data in the national minerals inventory is sourced primarily from published company reports but includes some confidential and historical data. The category of highest geological and economic confidence 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.

Mine production figures are sourced from the Office of the Chief Economist at the Department of Industry, Science and Resources, state government publications and company reports. World rankings of Australia's mineral resources have been calculated mainly using information published by the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

1 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian National Accounts, National Income, Expenditure and Product. Cat. No. 5206.0. Figure calculated using mining exports (excluding petroleum products) of $362 billion and Gross Domestic Product, Current Prices, Table 1 ($2,450 billion).

2 Office of the Chief Economist (Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources), Resources and Energy Quarterly, September 2023.

3 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Labour Force, Australia, Detailed. Cat. No. 6291.0.55.001. Table 4.

4 A critical mineral is an element or mineral that is essential for the functioning of modern technologies, economies or national security and there is a risk of disruption to its supply chains.

5 Australian Government. Critical Minerals Strategy 2023-2030. Department of Industry, Science and Resources, Canberra, 58pp.



8 See Footnote 6.

9 See Footnote 2.

10 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Quarterly Statistics, Mineral and Petroleum Exploration Australia March 2023.