(EnergyAsia, July 2 2012, Monday) — Australia’s resources and energy commodity export earnings are forecast to reach a record A$209 billion in the financial year ending June 30 2013, said the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics (BREE). The agency did not give an estimate for the country’s export earnings for the last financial year ended June 30 2012.

This year’s growth will largely be underpinned by increases in export values for iron ore, gold, thermal coal, liquefied natural gas, copper and alumina.

Growth will be supported by a projected decline in the value of the Australian dollar against the US dollar, and the expansion of mine and infrastructure capacities, said Quentin Grafton, BREE’s executive director and chief economist.

With the exception of aluminium, export volumes for all major minerals and energy commodities are forecast to increase.

The largest increases, in percentage terms, are forecast to be LNG (21%), alumina (15%), metallurgical and thermal coal (both around 13%), iron ore (10%) and copper (10%).

The bureau has forecast Australia’s thermal coal exports to rise 12.6% to 179 million tons, boosting earnings by 6.9% to A$18.6 billion. (US$1=A$0.99).

“The continued increase in Australia’s minerals and energy export earnings will be underpinned by strong growth in export volumes, particularly for iron ore and LNG following the completion of a number of projects,” said Professor Grafton.

The forecast increase in LNG exports in 2012–13 reflects the start up of the Pluto LNG project, which will increase Australia’s annual LNG production capacity from around 20 million tonnes to over 24 million tonnes.

The country’s LNG capacity could exceed 80 million tonnes by the end of this decade.

Economic growth across a number of major economies, including China, is assumed to slow in 2012, and rebound in 2013.

“Despite the uncertainty surrounding the outlook for some European economies, Australia’s export volumes for most commodities have remained strong throughout 2011–12, while prices for many commodities have remained at elevated levels relative to historical norms,” said Professor Grafton.