Mining broadly relates to the extraction of minerals occurring naturally as solids such as coal and ores, liquids such as crude petroleum, or gases such as natural gas. Activities carried out at or near mine sites as an integral part of mining operations, such as dressing or beneficiation of ores or other minerals, are included. Natural gas absorption and purifying plants are also included. However, the first stage processing of minerals and mineral extracts, while closely related to the mining industry, is included as part of the manufacturing industry.
Australia continues to rank as one of the world's leading mining nations with substantial identified resources of major minerals and fuel close to the surface. In 2001, it had the world's largest economic demonstrated resources of bauxite, lead, mineral sands (ilmenite, rutile and zircon), nickel, silver, tantalum, uranium and zinc. Australia is the largest producer of mineral sands in the world. It is also one of the largest producers of nickel, uranium and zinc, contributing respectively 11%, 27% and 17% of world production in 2001.
The contribution of the mining industry to Australia's gross domestic product has remained around 5% over the last 10 years. From an industry of origin perspective the mining industry is the nation's second largest export earner (after manufacturing), accounting for 27% of the total value of exports in 2002-03, principally from the coal, and oil and gas extraction industries.
Mining includes an article Expenditure on land access for mineral exploration, 2001-02.