SYDNEY Dec 13 (Reuters) - Australia on Tuesday lifted its forecast for total iron ore exports in 2011/12 to 460 million tonnes from its previous forecast of 449 million tonnes, citing recent expansions to mine and infrastructure capacity in the country.
The forecast for metallurgical coal exports was revised down, with the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics now predicting exports will reach 150 million tonnes versus 156 million in its forecast on Sept 20.
Asian steel mills, particularly ones in China, are the key buyers of both commodities.
Australia is the world's biggest iron producer, with BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto both having major iron ore operations in the country.
The resource-rich nation is also the world's biggest coking coal producer, as well as big producer of thermal coal and a range of other metals and minerals including copper, nickel and gold.