The mining industry has long been an important factor in Australia’s economic growth; currently the country is completely self-sufficient as regards the demand for economically more important minerals, and in several cases it is even among the main world producers. Almost all states have mineral resources, but it is Western Australia that contributes the most to total mining production, which includes coal, lignite, bauxite, copper, gold, iron ore, manganese, nickel, tin and uranium.
Australia supplies, with a production of 259,000 kg (2004), about 12% of the world’s gold production; the largest deposits are found in Western Australia, particularly in the area near Kalgoorlie, where gold is mostly exported to Singapore, Japan, Switzerland and Hong Kong. Following the discovery of diamond deposits in the Kimberley region in 1979, Australia became the world’s largest producer; in 2004 production reached 9.28 million carats for jewelery and 11.3 million carats for industrial use, almost entirely from the large Argyle field in Kimberley.
Most of the Australian iron ore production – 158.069.240 tons (2004) – comes from Western Australia; other iron ore reserves are found in Iron Knob, in South Australia, on Cockatoo Island, off Western Australia, in northwestern Tasmania and in Gippsland in the state of Victoria. Iron minerals are destined almost entirely for export; Australia is currently Japan’s main supplier, while other important markets are China, Germany, Korea and Taiwan.