ECONOMY: INDUSTRY AND MINERAL RESOURCES
The availability of energy was decisive for the location of the industries, which also arose in the vicinity of large urban centers. The main industrial concentration is therefore in the Sydney area, with a whole series of coastal centers, including Newcastle, at the mouth of the coalfields; other industrial areas are those of Brisbane and Melbourne. Overall, the secondary sector contributes just under 28% to the formation of GDP and absorbs about 21% of the workforce. The main industries are food, machine tools, metal products and petroleum. Sectorally the richest industry is the steel and metallurgical one, which produces steel, aluminum, zinc, lead, copper etc.; the mechanical industry is also developed, especially in the aeronautical, automotive, mining machinery and shipbuilding sectors. There are also industries of artificial and synthetic textile fibers. The presence of natural gas has favored the chemical industry (plastics), which is also active in the field of fertilizers; there are also numerous oil refineries in Geelong(Shell), Kurnell (Caltex Oil), Altona (ExxonMobil) etc. Relatively modest, despite the production of wool, is the textile industry, in which the production of cotton yarns stands out. Finally, among the important food industries are the canning (meat and, to a limited extent, fish) and the sugar industry. § In the last decades of the twentieth century, Australia proved to be very rich in minerals, for many of which it is among the top producers in the world; this in relation to the ancient lands from which it consists. Gold was the first to be identified in the mid-nineteenth century, so much so that it caused real immigration waves towards the center where it was discovered, Kalgoorlie ; today this precious metal (of which the country is the second largest producer in the world) is industrially obtained in the same locality, a Broken Hill, and Tennant Creek.
The main deposits of lead and zinc (whose production in 2006 placed Australia in second place in the world), as well as copper, are located in Broken Hill, in Mount Isa and at Mount Lyell in Tasmania, where a large refining center has sprung up, also favored by the island’s wealth of hydroelectric energy. Another abundant mineral is bauxite, for whose production the country holds the world record and which has one of the largest deposits in the world in Weipa, Queensland; other fields are found in the Northern Territory and in the Darling Range area (Western Australia). Ferrous minerals are also conspicuous, especially in Western Australia; they also extract silver, tungsten, magnesite, titanium, antimony, uranium ores. The extraction of diamonds is also significant, coming mainly from the deposits at Argyle and Bow River. Underground, the country also has manganese, tin, asbestos and opals. In addition to uranium, of which it is the second largest producer in the world (the uranium reserves of the country constitute 40% of the world total), Australia is rich in energy resources, starting with coal (the main source of income from abroad and of which Australia is the world’s leading exporter); there is a significant amount of it in the Great Dividing Range, especially in New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia; in Morwell (Victoria) there is also a vast deposit of lignite exploited for the production of electricity, almost entirely of thermal origin.
The extraction of oil (in the fields of Moonie, Alton, Conloi, on the island of Barrow and in the Bass Strait) makes it possible to satisfy almost entirely the internal needs; natural gas is present in the Rome, Gidgealpa and Moomba fields, in the Gippsland and Cooper basins, in the Bas Strait and in the continental shelf of the State of Victoria. In 2006 Australia concluded an agreement with East Timor for the joint exploitation of the fields offshore in the Greater Sunrise area. Minerals, along with agricultural and livestock products, fuel most exports. As a country located in Oceania listed on oxfordastronomy, Australia, on the other hand, is poor in water resources, due to its orographic and morphological conformation. They are limited almost exclusively to the eastern side of the Great Dividing Range but, as already mentioned, the watercourses of this area are linked to the rainfall and highly irregular; the construction of powerful infrastructures in the water sector would allow the agricultural development of large areas, now arid and unproductive. Energy is therefore produced for the most part in power plants, although hydroelectric plants have been built in the Snowy Mountains (in the Australian Alps).