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Major Industries in Australia

Industries: Although primary production is the main industry in Australia, manufacturing in Australia is still a significant industry. In 2000–2001, 00 million was spent on assistance to the manufacturing industry, with 40% going to the textile, clothing and footwear industry and the passenger motor vehicle industry. At that time, manufacturing accounted for 48% of exports, and 45% of Australian research and development. The manufacturing industry, with 40% going to the textile, clothing and footwear industry and the passenger motor vehicle industry. Manufacturing accounted for 48% of exports, and 45% of Australian research and development.

The food and beverage manufacturing industry are the largest in Australia. It consists of Meat and meat products, Beverage and malt manufacturing, Dairy products, Sugar and confectionery manufacturing, Fruit and vegetable processing, Bakery products, Flour mill and cereal food manufacturing, Oil and fat manufacturing, Seafood processing. As of 2010, three companies manufacture cars in Australia: GM-Holden, Ford and Toyota.

Holden bodyworks are manufactured at Elizabeth, South Australia and engines are produced at the Fishermans Bend plant in Port Melbourne, Victoria. In 2006, Holden’s export revenue was just under 00 million. Ford has two main factories, both in Victoria: located in the Geelong suburb of Norlane and the northern Melbourne suburb of Broadmeadows.Until 2006, Toyota had factories in Port Melbourne and Altona, Victoria. Since then, all manufacturing has been at Altona.

Mining: Mining in Australia is a significant primary industry and contributor to the Australian economy. Historically, mining booms have also encouraged immigration to Australia. Many different ores and minerals are mined throughout the country

Gold rushes: In 1851, gold was found near Ophir, New South Wales. Weeks later, gold was found in the newly established colony of Victoria. Australian gold rushes, in particular, the Victorian Gold Rush, had a major lasting impact on Victoria, and on Australia as a whole. The influx of wealth that gold brought soon made Victoria Australia’s richest colony by far, and Melbourne the island’s largest city. By the middle of the 1850s, 40% of the world’s gold was produced in Australia. Australia’s population changed dramatically as a result of the gold rushes: in 1851 the population was 437,655 and a decade later it was 1,151,947; the rapid growth was predominantly a result of the new chums (recent immigrants from the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth states) who contributed the ‘rush’. Although most Victorian goldfields were exhausted by the end of the 19th century, and although much of the profit was sent back to the UK, sufficient wealth remained to fund substantial development of industry and infrastructure.

Minerals and resources: Large quantities of minerals and resources are extracted in Australia. These include:

  • Iron ore – Australia was the world’s third-largest supplier in 2008 after China and Brazil, supplying 342 million metric tonnes.Nickel – Australia was the world’s second-largest producer in 2006 after Russia. Bauxite/aluminum
  • Copper
  • Gold – Australia is the second-largest producer after China.
  • Silver
  • Uranium – Australia is responsible for 16% of the world’s production and was the world’s third-largest supplier in 2009 after Kazakhstan and Canada.
  • Diamond – Australia has the third largest commercially-viable deposits after Russia and Botswana
  • Opal – Australia is the world’s largest producer of opal, being responsible for 95% of production.
  • Coal – Australia is the world’s largest exporter of coal and fourth-largest producer of coal behind China, USA and India.
  • Oil shale
  • Petroleum – Australia is the twenty-eighth largest producer of petroleum
  • Natural gas
  • Rare Earths

Much of the raw material mined in Australia is exported overseas to countries such as China for processing into a refined product. Energy and minerals constitute two-thirds of Australia’s total exports to China, and more than half of Australia’s iron ore exports are to China

Coal: Coal is mined in every state of Australia. It is used to generate electricity and is exported. 75% of the coal mined in Australia is exported, mostly to eastern Asia. In 2000/01, 258.5 million tonnes of coal was mined, and 193.6 million tonnes exported, rising to 261 million tonnes of exports in 2008–09. Coal also provides about 85% of Australia’s electricity production. Australia is the world’s leading coal exporter.

Uranium: Uranium mining in Australia began in the early 20th century in South Australia. Australia contains 23% of the world’s proven estimated uranium reserves. In recent decades opposition to uranium mining in Australia has increased, resulting in many government inquiries into its extraction. The three largest uranium mines in the country are Olympic Dam, Ranger Uranium Mine and Beverley Uranium Mine. Future production is expected from Honeymoon Uranium Mine and the planned Four Mile uranium mine.

Gas: Based on 2008 CSIRO report, Australia estimated have stranded gas reserves with about 140 trillion cubic feet or enough to fulfil the needs of a city with one million people for 2,800 years.

Economy: A number of large multinational mining companies including BHP Billiton, Newcrest, Rio Tinto, Alcoa, Chalco, Shenhua (a Chinese mining company), Alcan and Xstrata operate in Australia. There are also a lot of small mining and mineral exploration companies listed on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX). Overall, the resources sector represents almost 20% of the ASX market by capitalisation, and almost one-third of the companies listed. Mining contributes about 5.6% of Australia’s Gross Domestic Product. This is up from only 2.6% in 1950, but down from over 10% at the time of federation in 1900. In contrast, mineral exports contribute around 35% of Australia’s exports. Australia is the world’s largest exporter of coal (35% of international trade), iron ore, lead, diamonds, rutile, zinc and zirconium, second largest of gold and uranium, and third largest of aluminium. Japan was the major purchaser of Australian mineral exports in the mid-1990s. Of the developed countries, perhaps only in Canada and Norway does mining play as significant a part in the economy; for comparison, in Canada mining represents about 3.6% of the Canadian economy and 32% of exports, and in Norway mining, dominated by petroleum, represents about 19% of GDP and 46% of exports. By comparison, in the United States mining represents only about 1.6% of GDP. Despite its export importance, the mining sector employs only a small proportion of the workforce – roughly 129,000 Australians, representing only about 1.3% of the total labour force.

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