Continuing urbanisation will drive demand for resources, Australia’s chief economist Mark Cully told the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) in Melbourne this week. But while the urbanisation process in China may slow, India was accelerating in its wake, he forecast.

Mark Cully, who is attached to Australia’s Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, warned that India might not follow the Chinese pattern of building its economy initially on low-cost exports, a process which saw unprecedented resources demand from China. He said it would more likely move more swiftly to a strong service economy.

Nonetheless, India’s urbanisation and growth should underpin resource demand.

Equally interesting, he said, was the likely demand growth for specialist industrial and technology-related products such as rare earths, gallium, indium, tungsten, platinum and cobalt. These are commodities for which few satisfactory substitutes existed, he said.

Australia is well placed to prosper from minerals demand, he said. It is rated top or second for its demonstrated resources of iron ore, gold, uranium and cobalt, and in the top five for thermal coal, lithium and rare earths.

Across many commodities, technology and automation will continue to drive down costs for efficient producers, he added.

IMARC is Australia’s largest mining conference. It is the fourth cornerstone in global mining conferences covering the Asia Pacific region.

Australia’s resources industry is a key driver of the economy and IMARC brings together global leaders, executives, investors and national mining ministers from the international resource sector.

IMARC 2017 is welcoming over 3500 delegates from 77 countries as well as over 30 international ministers and government representatives. More than 150 mining companies are also attending.

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