Commodity exports drop $16 billion

Australia will take a $16 billion haircut on the value of mining and energy exports this year, according to the latest predictions from the government's top commodities forecaster.

Australia will take a $16 billion haircut on the value of mining and energy exports this year, according to the latest predictions from the government's top commodities forecaster.

Despite bigger volumes of exports and an easing currency, the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics believes the value of mining and energy exports will be lower this financial year on the back of weaker commodity prices.

The declines were led by the nation's two biggest export industries - iron ore and coking coal - with export values falling $5.4 billion and $9 billion respectively compared with 2012.

Only five of the 15 commodities surveyed by the bureau were found to be defying the trend, with liquefied natural gas exports the standout with a 28 per cent increase in export values; a $3.3 billion improvement on 2012.

Exports of manganese ore, crude oil, alumina and LPG were also said to be worth more in 2013, but only by a combined total of $800 million.

Australia's 15 biggest export commodities are expected to be worth $176.5 billion in 2013, about $15.9 billion below the 2012 result. But despite the gloomy depiction of 2013, the bureau believes a strong rebound will occur in 2014.

By predicting that mining and energy exports will top $196 billion in 2014, the bureau suggests a bigger return from the sector than at any time over the past five years.

The optimism was driven by expectations that the volume of exports will continue to grow, and relief from a lower Australian dollar would become permanent.

The bureau printed a graph which showed the Australian dollar settling below parity with the US currency through 2014, and noted that such an outcome would deliver billions of dollars worth of benefits.

Resources companies may also find more favourable policies next year if Opposition Leader Tony Abbott wins the next election as most polls suggest.

Mr Abbott addressed members of the resources industry at a conference in Canberra on Wednesday, where he reiterated his plan to overhaul the environmental approvals system by creating a "one-stop shop".

A spokesman for Mr Abbott said the federal government would not lose its powers over offshore waters, nuclear energy matters and world heritage. But he said a single bureaucracy would assess an application against both state and federal laws.

The policy was welcomed by Business Council of Australia chief Jennifer Westacott. "The double handling and delays that are evident in the current environmental approvals processes cost jobs, while doing nothing to protect the environment."

But Greens environment spokeswoman Senator Larissa Waters said: "Tony Abbott wants to wind back environment protection by 30 years by handing national environment law over to his state cronies."

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