Continuing urbanisation will drive demand for resources, Australia's Chief Economist, Mark Cully, told the International Mining and Resources Conference in Melbourne.

But while the urbanisation process in China may slow, India was accelerating in its wake, he forecast.

Mr Cully, attached to the Australia’s Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, warned that India might not follow the Chinese pattern of building its economy initially on low-cost exports (a process which saw unprecedented resource demand from China) moving more swiftly to a strong service economy. Nonetheless, India’s urbanisation and growth should underpin resource demand.

Equally interesting, he said, was the likely demand growth for specialist industrial and technology- related products such as rare earths, gallium, indium, tungsten, platinum and cobalt. These are commodities for which few satisfactory substitutes exist, he said.

Australia is well placed to prosper from minerals demand, he said. It is rated top or second for its demonstrated resources of iron, gold, uranium and cobalt, and in the top five for thermal coal, lithium and rare earths.

Across many commodities, technology and automation will continue to drive down costs for efficient producers, he said.