Eyre Peninsula is one of South Australia’s most productive regions generating approx. $3.5 billion in Gross Regional Product (GRP) annually. The region is highly export oriented with product valued at $2.98 billion being exported to domestic and overseas markets in 2021.

The regional economy is primarily driven by the agriculture, manufacturing, mining, and aquaculture and fishing industries. While these industries are well established, tourism, renewable energy, and health and community services are fast developing as major sources of employment and revenue generation. Whyalla is unique having a substantial industrial base, providing mining, engineering and steel manufacturing services.

The region has many competitive advantages including well established industries, premium food and agricultural product, magnificent natural resources, high quality mineral resources, vibrant communities, and a quality lifestyle second to none.

These collective characteristics provide significant export and domestic growth opportunities.

Key Sectors

  • Health Care and Social Assistance
  • Manufacturing
  • Agriculture
  • Small Business
  • Tourism
  • Mining
  • Fishing and Aquaculture
  • Renewable Energy


The region has an ageing population and increasing demand for aged care services. Based on employment generation, health care and social assistance is the largest employing industry in South Australia, and is the largest industry in the region.

In 2020-21, the health care and social assistance industry provided 3,207 total jobs or 12.5% of regional employment. This industry was the largest employer in Port Lincoln, Whyalla and Ceduna; and a key employer in all of the region’s Local Government Areas (LGAs).


In 2021 manufacturing, which includes the production of metal products and food processing, provided 2,093 (8.1%) of the region’s jobs. Manufacturing contributes 15.5% of output valued at $961.8 million, and generates exports of $744 million.

Whyalla is the largest industrial city in regional South Australia and the principal centre for manufacturing, steel production and resources processing in the Upper Spencer Gulf. The manufacturing industry in Whyalla provided 752 jobs in 2020-21, and Port Lincoln provided 583 of the region’s manufacturing jobs.

Most of Whyalla’s manufacturing jobs (562 positions) in 2020-21 were provided in the iron and steel production sector.

Whyalla’s reliance on iron ore mining and steel manufacturing makes its economy extremely vulnerable to commodity price variations.


Agriculture was the region’s third largest employer in 2013-14, providing 2,910 (11.0%) of jobs. Agriculture was the largest employer in the District Councils of Lower Eyre Peninsula (538 jobs); Tumby Bay (410); Cleve (378), Elliston (332); Kimba (306) and Wudinna (275).

The region produces high quality lamb, beef and pork, and is renowned for high quality and niche grains. On average, the region produces 40% of the State’s wheat crop, 24% of the barley drop, and 22% of canola. Approximately 97% of the region’s grain crop is exported, and was valued at $643 million in 2013-14.

The agriculture industry contributes approximately 12.0% of GRP, valued at $502 million, and total agricultural exports are valued at $882 million per annum.


The region is well serviced with a comprehensive range of retail, trade, finance and other businesses.

The Cities of Port Lincoln and Whyalla are the main regional centres with major supermarkets, specialist retail outlets, banking, financial and professional services; along with tourism operations, hotels, restaurants, automotive, trades and other businesses.

In the west, Ceduna is the main commercial centre providing a broad range of retail, finance, tourist, and trade services, along with State and Australian Government agencies. The smaller rural centres of Tumby Bay, Streaky Bay, Cummins, Wudinna, Kimba, Lock, Cleve and Cowell have well developed shopping and agricultural service precincts.

Small to Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) employing less than 200 people are the backbone of the regional economy. Many small businesses have been established to directly provide support services to the region’s major industries, and this ongoing provision is critical to SME sustainability.

In 2013, the region had 5,338 businesses, with the largest proportion (1,957, 36.7%) in the agricultural, fishing and aquaculture sectors. Approximately 60% of SMEs are owner operated, non-employing businesses; and 85% of these are micro-businesses employing less than 5 people.

Retail trade is the region’s fourth largest industry, providing 2,536 jobs and 9.8% of regional employment. In 2013-14, most of the region’s retail trade employees were based in Whyalla (941, 37% of jobs) and Port Lincoln (919, 36% of the region’s retail jobs).

The retail trade industry contributed 3.6% of GRP in 2013-14, valued at $150 million.


Tourism is a fast growing industry and has considerable growth potential. The region’s pristine natural parks, coastal environment and Aboriginal tourism product are key attractions.

Visitors are able to enjoy unique nature-based experiences such as camping in National Parks, cage diving with Great White sharks, swimming with seals and cuttlefish, and whale watching at the Head of the Bight.

The abundance of diverse and premium seafood from the clean and green environment is a major attraction for culinary visitors and recreational fishers. The region has a developing food industry producing high quality meats, grains, honey, wine and other product. Marketing strategies are being implemented interstate and overseas to showcase the region’s food product and position the Eyre Peninsula as a culinary tourism destination.

Tourism contributes $300 million to the regional economy (approximately 7.2% of GRP) and directly employs 1,530 people (5.3% of regional employment). Another 1,500 indirect jobs are also created through tourism activity; mainly in the food service, hospitality, accommodation and retail trade sectors.

The Eyre Peninsula is one of the fastest growing tourism regions in South Australia, providing about 4.6% of South Australia’s tourism contribution.


Mining is the region’s fastest emerging industry, with over 76% growth in employment during the last decade. The Eyre Peninsula is located within the Gawler Craton and Eucla Basin provinces. These provinces are regarded as the most promising mineral frontiers in Australia, and contain large resources of high quality magnetite, graphite, kaolin gypsum and mineral sands.

In 2013-14, mining ranked as the region’s seventh largest employer providing 1,526 jobs and 5.9% of employment. This growth can be attributed to high levels of minerals exploration by companies such as Centrex Metals/Eyre Iron (for the Fusion Joint Venture); Iron Road Limited (for the Central Eyre Iron Project); and graphite resource exploration by Valence Industries, Lincoln Minerals and Archer Exploration Limited.

Most (95%) of the region’s mining jobs in 2013-14 were in Whyalla (1,076), Ceduna (202), Tumby Bay (91) and Franklin Harbour (87).

Mining is the region’s main contributor to GRP providing 29.2% of GRP in 2013-14 valued at $1.22 billion. Mining is also the region’s main exporting industry, providing 30.5% of exports worth $1.263 billion.

The mining industry is expected to have additional growth in future years when developing mines and prospects progress from exploration to operation. This will create numerous employment and business opportunities and further diversify the regional economy. However, this growth will be subject to improved commodity prices, and is very much dependent on significant government and private investment in major port, road, rail, power and water infrastructure.


The region is renowned domestically and internationally for its premium seafood product, due to the marketing success of the region’s trademarked brand: ‘Eyre Peninsula – Australia’s Seafood Frontier’. This reputation has been built on sound environmental management, sustainability, aquaculture development and entrepreneurship.

On average, the region produces 100% of South Australia’s Southern Bluefin Tuna (with approximately 99% of tuna exported to Japan): along with 100% of the State’s marine finfish, 97% of oysters, 92% of mussels, and about 62% of the State’s abalone production.

In total, approximately 82% of South Australia’s seafood product is exported from the RDAEP region.

The fishing and aquaculture industries are small employers in comparison with other industries; providing 685 (2.6%) and 708 (2.7%) of the region’s jobs respectively in 2013-14.

Most of the fishing jobs were provided in Port Lincoln (522), Streaky Bay (55), Elliston (40) and Ceduna (38). Most of the aquaculture jobs were provided in Port Lincoln (261), Lower Eyre Peninsula (199), Franklin Harbour (92), Ceduna (82) and Cleve (49).

In 2013-14, fishing provided 0.8% of GRP valued at $35 million, and exports worth $46 million. Aquaculture provided 2.2% of GRP valued at $91 million, and exports of $129 million.


Renewable energy has substantial development potential due to the region’s natural assets of consistent wind resources, abundant sunshine and high wave action. The region has an estimated 300 cloud free days per annum, making it ideal for large scale solar energy farms. The wave climate on the west coast of the Eyre Peninsula is the best available in South Australia for wave harnessing technologies.

There is potential to use wave and solar technologies for power generation, including the powering of water desalination plants at strategic coastal locations. RDAEP is presently negotiating with a Canadian wave energy company which is interested in establishing a commercial demonstration plant on the Eyre Peninsula.

The Eyre Peninsula has a landscape suitable for large scale wind farms. Four zones have been identified with wind speeds above 8 metres per second and potential to produce more than 10,000MW of power generation. Two existing wind farms at Cathedral Rocks (near Port Lincoln) and Mt Millar (near Cowell) supplement the Eyre Peninsula power transmission network.

The potential of using wind-hydro technology for power generation has been investigated by Australian and Chinese companies, however these projects are still in progress.

The progress of many renewable energy initiatives was stalled by Australian Government policy and funding changes during 2013-14.

However, in March 2016 the Australian Government announced its intention to continue funding the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. This will create opportunities to provide capex funding and investment to support renewable energy initiatives.


Australian company, Muradel, has developed a commercial scale demonstration site at Whyalla to produce sustainable biofuel from microalgae in saline water.

Muradel was formed from a joint research project by the University of Adelaide, Murdoch University and SQC Pty Ltd. The research project was funded by the Australian Government from 2009 to 2011 as part of the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate program.

Muradel has developed efficient, high recovery, and low energy harvesting technology which enables the sustainable production of green crude biodiesel from marine microalgae. The crude can potentially be refined to produce liquid fuel equivalent in engine performance to fossil-derived diesel, petrol or jet fuel.

RDAWEP has also been assisting the University of Adelaide, Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls to investigate the use of alternate feed stocks (such as agave, wheat straw and weedy plants) for biofuel production. This project includes the integration of solar thermal energy in the production process.

The proponents plan to establish agave and other trial sites in Whyalla. Stakeholder consultation has been undertaken with industry, however the project implementation has been hindered by uncertainty regarding Australian Government policy for renewable energy funding programs.

RDAWEP is providing ongoing assistance with these projects.


The RDAEP region has the characteristics and capability to facilitate and support a broad range of significant developments.

The regional economy is diverse with world-leading companies in agriculture, manufacturing, fishing, aquaculture, renewable energy, mining and tourism.

The region has the physical characteristics to support renewable energy initiatives due to natural advantages of a pristine environment, large areas of land, consistent wind patterns, and a high wave energy coastline.

Growing world demand for the region’s high quality mineral resources and premium food product is providing the catalyst for numerous major project developments. These initiatives will bring tangible long term benefits by further strengthening local industries and driving sustainable economic growth into the future.

World class education and research facilities are located in the region, and innovative research and demonstration projects are being undertaken to create new knowledge and find new ways of doing business. These facilities have a vital role in enhancing the region’s capacity to deal with new challenges; such as addressing climate change impacts and environmental sustainability. This is pivotal for advancing skills and technologies to build a sustainable economy.

Communities in the region are committed to strong and sustainable economic growth to ensure that future opportunities are realised, and that the region is enhanced as an attractive destination for productive long term investment.

However, the socio-economic context in Australia is changing rapidly. RDAEP is aware that new planning approaches need to be adopted in regional areas to achieve long term growth.

RDAEP, in partnership with the Eyre Peninsula Local Government Association and Eyre Peninsula Landscape Board, is presently pursuing a collective, whole-of-region approach to planning and governance to create the economies of scale necessary to advance infrastructure development and secure investment.