CANBERRA, July 2 (Xinhua) -- Australia's coal exports will overtake iron ore in financial year 2018-19 starting on July 1, according to figures published by the government's department of industry on Monday.
The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science figures show total coal exports are forecast to reach 58.1 billion Australian dollars (43 billion U.S. dollars) in 2018-19, overtaking iron ore for the first time in almost a decade.
Higher prices and surging demand from Asia have sparked fresh calls for Labor to end its "war on coal," with Resources Minister Matthew Canavan quoted as saying "a strong coal industry means a strong economy."
"Coal produces thousands of jobs, billions in tax revenues and record exports," Canavan was quoted by The Australian as saying on Monday.
Canavan said new export forecasts strengthened the investment case for the Adani Group's proposed 16.5-billion-Australian dollar (12.2-billion-U.S. dollar) Carmichael coalmine and the development of Queensland's Galilee Basin, which federal Labor has opposed.
With less than two months to go until voters go to the polls in the Queensland seat of Longman in one of five 'Super Saturday' by-elections, Canavan suggested opposition leader Bill Shorten was the biggest barrier to the opening up of the Galilee Basin and new resources jobs in the state.
"Opening up the Galilee would generate 16,000 direct mining jobs and tens of billions in taxes," Canavan is reported to have said.
"It is likely coal and iron ore will continue to fight it out for the title of Australia's top export-earner in coming years, while Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) will also perform strongly," he said.