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The resources boom delivered Australia a record AUD$190 billion pay cheque in 2011, despite market jitters causing commodity prices to slide late in the year, according to The Age.

Energy and resources export earnings jumped 15 per cent in 2011, from $166 billion in 2010, the newspaper reported, citing the Bureau of Resources and Economics.

Shipments of coal, iron ore and liquefied natural gas drove most of the growth, thanks to strong Asian demand underpinned by China.

Iron ore was the nation’s most lucrative export, worth $59.3 billion, followed by coal, which earned $46.9 billion.

The surge in export revenue came despite a 2 per cent dip in earnings during the December quarter, and widespread disruption to the coal industry from the floods of early 2011.

After weak economic growth figures yesterday shocked markets, Resources Minister Martin Ferguson said the earnings showed the mining industry was performing “consistently well.”

“In coming years we expect to see further increases in volumes for key commodities, as investment projects currently underway start production in the future,” Ferguson said.

Recent figures suggest earnings from trade have fallen slightly in early 2012, and economists say this could drag on an economy that is already grappling with weak household spending.

The record earnings came despite a challenging year for the coal industry, which faced widespread disruptions after the flooding of early 2011 left key mines in Queensland under water for months.

The Bureau’s chief economist, Quentin Grafton, said prices and expansion of capacity by iron ore miners helped offset the weakness in coal production.

“Increased iron ore production was underpinned by the start up of new capacity in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, while coal production was affected by flooding in Queensland in early 2011,” Professor Grafton said.

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