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Natural resources are the wealth supplied bynature that is available for human use. Naturalresources include water, soil, forests, fish, energyand mineral deposits, and wildlife and naturalscenery. Australia has a greater value of naturalresources per head of population than any othercountry in the world. The main reason is that wehave a small population in a very large country.
The United States and China, for example, are farbetter endowed with natural resources than Australia,but they have much larger populations.
Australia is rich in energy resources. On the world energy scene, Australia is:· the world’s main exporter of black coal· a major uranium exporter· a major exporter of liquated natural gas.
At White Cliffs in far-western New South Wales, solarre¯ectors have the potential to make a signifcantcontribution to the town’s power needs. The installation isalready the source of power for the small town’s street lights,post office, hospital, school and community centre.
Australia has abundant quantities of bothblack and brown coal with about 8 per cent of theworld total of black coal and about 15 per cent ofthe world’s brown coal. The main black coaledare in the Hunter Valley/Sydney Basin area ofNew South Wales and the Bowen Basin inQueensland. The main brown coaled arelocated in Victoria’s La Trobe Valley. AlthoughAustralia has limited supplies of crude oil, vast
ENERGY supplies of natural gas have been discovered,particularly in the North West Shelf area off thecoast of Western Australia. Australia’s uraniumresources are among the largest in the world.
Research and development of renewableresources is an important step towards a sustainablefuture. In Australia, there is considerablepotential for the use of renewable energysources, such as solar and wind energy.
Australia is also rich in mineral resources. ThePilbara region in Western Australia has some ofthe largest reserves of iron ore in the world.
Large reserves of bauxite and aluminium exist atWeipa in Queensland and the Gove Peninsula inthe Northern Territory. Australia also producesmany other minerals, including silver, copper,nickel and tin. The main goldfields are located inWestern Australia.
Australia is:· the world’s largest exporter of iron ore, bauxite,lead, diamonds, zinc ores and mineral sands· the world’s second-largest exporter of alumina· the world’s third-largest exporter of gold.
Mount Tom Price is a huge iron ore mine in the Pilbararegion in Western Australia. To learn more, go towww.jaconline.com.au/geoactive/geoactive2 and click onthe Mining weblink for this chapter.
Australia has generally poor soils, especially whencompared with those found on other continents,such as North America and Europe. Most Australiansoils are low in nutrients, and in some partsof the continent, particularly the more arid areas,high salt content is also a problem. Most parts ofAustralia are suitable for only sheep and cattlegrazing rather than intensive agriculture, due tothe combination of low rainfall and poor soils.
There are patches of good soil scatteredthroughout the continent. These include soilsformed on rock of volcanic origin, such as those onthe Darling Downs in Queensland and aroundOrange in New South Wales. Alluvial soils arealso found in river valleys, such as those along theClarence River in New South Wales and aroundthe Margaret River in Western Australia.
Australia, with its unique flora and fauna, hasmany places of great natural beauty. The spectacularscenery attracts tourists from all over theworld. Several places in Australia are includedon the World Heritage List. This means thatthey are recognised as being of global importancebecause they are places of great natural or culturalsignificance. For example, Kakadu NationalPark is recognised as a World Heritage areabecause of its natural significance (includingexceptional natural beauty and biologicaldiversity) and cultural significance (includingAboriginal rock art and ceremonialsites). Other places of unique naturalscenery are the Great Barrier Reefand the Blue Mountains.