SA gold output extends biggest drop in a decade

South African gold production shrank for an 18th straight month in March, extending the longest run of contractions since the financial crisis.

Output of the precious metal dropped 18% from a year earlier compared with a 21% decline in February, Statistics South Africa said in a statement Thursday. Production contracted for 29 months through January 2009.

South Africa used to be the world’s top producer of the metal but deeper ore bodies, labour strife, high costs and policy uncertainty have crimped output.

A strike by members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union that started in November and ended in mid-April has slashed output at the South African operations of Sibanye Gold, the biggest producer of the metal from local mines.

Total mining output declined 1.1% from a year earlier, compared with a revised contraction of 8.1% in February.

The country is the world’s biggest platinum producer.

Output of platinum-group metals, which include palladium, fell for the first time in seven months, shrinking 0.5%.

According to stats SA, when March 2019 production figures are compared with those of March 2018: 

  • gold fell by 17.7%
  • iron ore fell by 1.6%
  • chromium ore fell by 6.4%
  • coal rose by 5.7%.

While net mining production was down, total sales increased by 11.6% year-on-year, with platinum group metals up 21.3% and iron ore up 44.1

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