Once the undisputed largest gold producer in the world, South Africa is now tied with Sudan for annual gold production in 11th place globally, according to new data from the US.
The United States Geological Survey on Tuesday published estimates of global gold production for 2020.
South Africa's production fell by 14% from 105 tons in 2019 to 90 tons in 2020, equal to that of Sudan and Uzbekistan.
For the second year running the largest African gold producer was Ghana, which mined 140 tons of gold .
In 2020, China was again the world's largest producer of bullion, producing about four times as much gold as South Africa.
A decade ago South Africa was still by far the continent's largest gold producer, mining 190 tons, almost twice as much as Ghana, while Sudan did not feature of the survey's list of top producers.
But a lack of new investment, rising costs, load shedding, decaying grades and the challenges of keeping some of the world's deepest mines operational have seen SA's share of the gold market shrink.
One of the country's best-known producers, AngloGold, last year sold its remaining local assets to rival Harmony Gold as it exited South African operations after more than a century.
The Minerals Council this week said that while the gold price increase by about 45% in 2020 in rand terms, the outlook for new investment was poor.
"In the absence of a structural solution to the electricity crisis in South Africa, the investment prospects of the sector are expected to remain bleak," it said in its overview for the year.
"The intermittent nature of the electricity supply has health and safety concerns, while the steep price trajectory of electricity tariffs is also a major concern from an input cost perspective."