Opportunities and challenges facing the Australian resources sector


  • Kate Penney,

  • Jane Melanie,

  • Clare Stark,

  • Terry Sheales

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    • Kate Penney (email: kate.penney@bree.gov.au) and Clare Stark were formerly from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES), and are now with the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics (BREE), GPO Box 1564, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia. Jane Melanie and Terry Sheales are formerly of ABARES.

  • The views expressed in this article are the authors alone and do not reflect those of the organisations they represent. The authors wish to thank anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper.


The resources sector has made a significant contribution to Australia’s prosperity over a large part of its postcolonial history. A combination of substantial mineral and energy resources, perceived low sovereign risk, a skilled workforce, technological leadership, openness to direct foreign investment and relative freedom from interventionist government policies has shaped the Australian resources sector into a highly competitive supplier of minerals and energy products to global markets. Despite this strong global market position, the past performance of the resources sector is no guarantee for its future. The sector operates within a highly competitive globalised environment. Its future depends on its ability to remain internationally competitive, while pursuing sustainable development through a combination of resources discovery and exploitation, socially responsible development and effective environmental stewardship.