The resources boom is not over and the sector is entering a new export growth phase that will deliver Australia "serious money", Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane said on Thursday.
While there had been a slowdown in construction projects, the production of coal, iron ore, gas, liquefied natural gas (LNG) and base metals was ramping up.
The Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics (BREE) forecasts export earnings for mineral and energy commodities to increase by more than 60 per cent over the next five years to around $290 billion a year. "That is serious money," Mr Macfarlane told the 2013 Annual National Conference on Resources and Energy in Canberra. The value of those exports in 2012 was $177 billion. Much of the new growth will come from the LNG sector, with exports expected to increase by 360 per cent to around $65 billion.
"Australia will shortly become the second largest - or optimistically, the largest exporter - of LNG and that is nothing short of amazing," Mr Macfarlane said.
The federal government wants Australia to be an "energy super power" and will be working on a white paper towards this end over the next 12 months.
The minister plans to visit Japan, China, South Korea and Thailand in his first official overseas trip before parliament resumes to "tell the rest of the world we are open for business". Mr Macfarlane nominated coal seam gas (CSG) mining in NSW as one of his major challenges as industry minister, alongside negotiations with struggling carmaker Holden to support manufacturing.
The CSG market is a contentious issue in NSW, where farming communities are opposing activity near agricultural lands due to concerns about contamination.
Mr Macfarlane said he was confident that the issue could be resolved in a way that would make farmers part of the solution.
"As we have seen in Queensland, farmers get an economic gain out of it, the community gets an economic gain," he said.