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What Are Natural Resources?

1 December 2022

What Are Natural Resources?

Australia is often touted as a natural resources powerhouse. Major resources and minerals deposits are located in all states, and the mining industry is a significant contributor to Australia’s economy and employment.

Understanding the breadth and variety of natural resources helps explain their importance. Natural resources are the raw materials we draw from nature and often modify to make food, fuel or other materials for applications such as construction, manufacturing and industry. Natural resources include commodities such as oil, coal, metals, stone and sand that are naturally occurring in nature.

What resources are mined in Australia? Australia has an abundance of natural resources from coal to gas, critical minerals, silver, copper and nickel. Companies like Bravus Mining and Resources, the operators of one of 125 coal mines in Australia, use a variety of different techniques to safely explore, develop and extract these natural resources. They are all important contributors to our everyday lives.

What Are Natural Resources?

Over many millions of years, nature produced natural resources that span the periodic table of elements and are today mined for a variety of purposes. These natural resources are usually found in the earth’s crust and are mined and refined to create sources of energy or other important materials. 

Natural resources include both mineral and energy resources. Minerals are natural, inorganic substances with distinct physical and chemical properties and crystal structures. Energy resources are those that can be harnessed to create electricity including coal, petroleum, uranium and wind and these can be found both onshore and offshore[1].

What are natural resources like these used for? Mineral resources are sources of metals like gold, silver, copper, aluminium and tin while mineral sands contain important materials like rutile, zircon and ilmenite[2] that are refined to create many of our everyday products. Energy resources like coal are used to create electricity, while a special type of coal is used to produce coke for the process of making steel. It is also used in the manufacturing of cement, food processing and alumina refineries. Natural resources are a critical part of most of the products or processes we use each and every day.

The Importance of Natural Resources

While natural resources are worth many billions of dollars to the global economy each year, they have also delivered incalculable value to human development over generations and are critical to everyday living. The mining of natural resources in Australia has created a resources sector that makes a major contribution to Australia’s annual gross domestic product, employment, rural and regional development, environmental research and technological innovation[3]. The mining of energy resources creates electricity and heat and helps to make steel to support the construction industry. Mineral resources are critical to the creation of products like electrical wiring (copper), aeroplanes (aluminium), porcelain (rutile) and electronics (lithium). 

What are the Natural Resources in Australia?

As an ancient and vast continent, Australia is a leading source of natural resources. So what natural resources does Australia have in abundance? Australia is the world’s largest producer of minerals including iron ore, bauxite, zircon, ilmenite and rutile[4]. Australia is also the second-largest global producer of gold, lead, zinc and manganese ore, and mines black and brown coal, silver, copper and nickel. This wealth of natural resources has stimulated the development of a strong mining sector.

So what resources are mined in Australia? There are 19 different minerals mined significantly in Australia across almost 400 mines. Each year Australia’s mining industry exports are worth approximately $160 billion while the resources sector supports 1.2 million jobs[5]. Of this, the coal industry is a major contributor, with an estimated 100 coal industry companies worth a combined $144 billion and employing more than 36,000 people[6].  Geoscience Australia figures show Australia is the fifth largest producer and second largest exporter of coal[7].

Are Fossil Fuels Natural Resources?

Fossil fuels are a type of natural resource that can be burned to create energy, such as coal, oil and natural gas. These natural resources are found in the Earth’s crust and were formed millions of years ago from ancient decomposing plants and animals[8]. These plants and animals contained carbon and hydrogen atoms which remained stored in their fossilised remains. Over millions of years, subjected to heat and pressure underground, they were slowly turned into the fossil fuels that are mined today[9].

The type of fuel they become is dependent on the type of fossil and the amount of heat and pressure it was subjected to. For example, coal is typically found in sedimentary rock where rock and dead plant and animal matter have been compressed into layers. These ancient fossils have become important natural resources today.

Learn More Mining in Australia with Bravus

Natural resources are a critical part of everyday living, providing energy and materials to sustain and support a high quality of life. Australia’s natural resources industry makes a major contribution each year to the country’s economy, supporting jobs and regional communities as well as essential services through royalties and taxes paid.

Bravus Mining and Resources is proud to play an important part in the mining industry in regional Queensland with the Carmichael Mine in the Galilee Basin producing high-quality low-ash coal for export each year. The mine supports many local jobs while the coal helps to provide reliable energy for the global market. 

Learn more about Bravus Mining and Resources’ operations in Australia here.