Western Australia (WA) is currently the world’s largest iron ore producer, and mining of its huge reserves and resources of iron ore has become a critical part of the state’s economy and regional development. Iron ore exports from WA have reached 760 Mt/a, corresponding to shipping more than one Mt per turn-of-the-tide from the state’s ports. The iron ore sector dominates all commodities produced in WA, and in 2016 accounted for 77 per cent of the state’s royalty receipts, 56 per cent of mineral and petroleum exports (by value) and 50 per cent of mining industry employment. Expenditure on exploration for iron ore (including that for resource estimation and conversion to ore reserves) has declined markedly, from its record peak of $1100 M in 2012 to $280 M in 2016, placing it second after gold. Foreign investment has been a key element underpinning development of the iron ore industry from the 1960s until today, and will likely continue to be so into the future.
Flint, D, Wyche, N, Beardsmore, T J and Griffin, T J, 2017. The importance of iron ore to Western Australia’s economy, in Proceedings Iron Ore 2017, pp 7–12 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).