Monday’s report from the Government of Australia’s Department of Industry, Science and Resources (DISR) predicts that the country’s revenue from critical minerals is to match that of coal by the year 2028.

According to the DISR interest in coal has passed its peak, whereas growing demand for electric vehicles and renewable technology will amount to growing demand for critical minerals including lithium, nickel, cobalt and rare earth metals.

The government’s March quarterly review shows a $8.32bn (A$12.3bn) investment in mining during the fourth quarter of 2022. This was up 10% from the same period in the year prior.

It is predicted that $27.75bn (A$41bn) will be invested in Australia’s mining sector in the year 2023-2024.

The report predicts that export revenue from thermal coal will fall to a third of current levels to $12.67bn (A$19bn) by 2027-2028.

In total, Australia’s total resource and energy exports are forecast to reach a fresh record of $314.03bn (A$464bn) this financial year, following a global increase in energy prices.

Lithium in Australia

As demand for lithium surges, export revenues will more than triple, reaching $12.59bn (A$18.6bn) for the current financial year. This compares with $3.59bn (A$5bn) a year earlier.

Australia is the largest lithium exporter in the world, accounting for 53% of global production. According to the report, “world demand for lithium is estimated to increase from 814,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent in 2022 to almost 1 million tonnes in 2023”.

The report attributes increased interest in electric vehicles and their required batteries as a key driver of lithium demand, as a number of companies create more affordable models. Demand for lithium batteries accounted for almost 80% of all lithium use in 2022 and is expected to reach 90% by the end by 2027-2028.

The government predicts that Australian lithium exports will remain stable in the coming year, as prices are expected to moderate after a peak last year.

The DISR predicts annual exports of copper, alumina, lithium and nickel will reach $33.16bn ($49bn aid) by 2027-28.