Now, one commodity is almost single-handedly keeping the trade relationship afloat: iron ore.
Australia is the world's largest producer of iron ore, mining more than 910 million metric tonnes in the 2019-2020 financial year, according to the Australian government, almost twice as much as its nearest competitor Brazil. Iron ore is a vital component in the production of steel, and with China embarking on a $500 billion infrastructure spending spree to help the economy recover from the pandemic, Beijing's need for it has never been greater.
Diplomatic relations between Australia and China fell into a deep chill one year ago, after Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for an independent investigation into the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic which threatened to challenge Beijing's narrative of the viral outbreak. The Chinese government said Morrison's request was "political manipulation," and since then Australian exports to China have faced growing barriers to entry. Overall Chinese investment in Australia plunged 62% in 2020. But experts said that unlike wine and coal, it would be tough for China to find new sources of iron ore any time soon. That means Australia's largest source of trade revenue may be secure.