Australia's resources boom will continue with iron ore and LNG exports to soar, according to one of the nation's leading private sector forecasters.
Despite warnings from the Reserve Bank that mining investment is falling faster than expected, BIS Shrapnel - in a report to be released today - says mining is going to become even more important to the nation.
The bullish forecasts have been underpinned by figures out of China showing Australia's - and WA's - most important trading partner is picking up economic speed.
BIS Shrapnel senior manager Adrian Hart said while it was clear mining investment was starting to fall from extraordinary heights, production out of the new mines was being ignored. It was the exports that would ensure mining effectively contributed one in every five dollars of Australian GDP.
"With respect to the mining boom, it's probably fair to say that this is not the beginning of the end but the end of the beginning," he said.
"Over the next five years the strong boost from mining production, led by LNG and iron ore, will more than offset the economic negatives from falling mining investment which will flow through to construction and manufacturing."
BIS acknowledges the mining construction boom is over, tipping a 20 per cent drop in investment over the coming five years.
But Mr Hart said this would be more than made up by a 41 per cent jump in production from the nation's mines.
Direct employment in mines is forecast to lift 11 per cent with much of that in the vital maintenance sector which is tipped to jump almost 50 per cent by 2017-18. Exploration, which has edged down over the past year, is expected to improve.
The value of iron ore production alone is tipped to grow from $50 billion two years ago to almost $100 billion by 2018. Oil and gas, led by the huge Gorgon project and Queensland's Curtis Island LNG developments, would grow even quicker.
Much hinges on China which, according to figures from the Bureau of Statistics last week, now accounts for 36 per cent of Australia's total exports.
Weekend figures out of China confirmed the country is accelerating with strong increases in industrial production, retail sales and urban investment.