Australia has long held a competitive advantage as a low cost producer of Iron Ore, and reliable provider in the seaborne trade of this commodity. For nearly a decade demand for iron ore grew to unprecedented levels, with export volumes from Australia increasing 11.1% per annum between 2001 and 2011, making Iron Ore Australia’s largest export. Prices increased four-fold during this time. More recently, we have witnessed demand ease to more balanced levels due to the increased global supply, and reduction in economic growth in China. Prices fell back to the long term average. However, long term demand for steel is forecast to continue to grow at more traditional rates, in order to accommodate the needs of growing populations and affluence in India, Africa and other parts of Asia.
With unprecedented levels of production, Australia has to focus its efforts to maintain its global market share, given the growing mix of ore types being sourced, including the effects of mining below the water table, and challenges in meeting customer requirements. In this context, a new Industrial Transformation Research Hub, concerned with “Advanced Technologies for Australian Iron Ore”, has been established, with equal funding from the Australian Research Council and industry collaborators.