South Africa becomes China's third biggest iron ore supplier

South Africa has become the third largest supplier of iron ore to China as rival exporter India struggles to overcome troubles in its mining sector.

Business Day Live reports that exports of iron ore from South Africa to China leapt a stunning 12% to 40.6 million tonnes in 2012 compared to 2011, while Indian exports plunged nearly 55% to 33 million tonnes.

India implemented a strict crackdown on illegal operations in its mining sector last year, stanching overseas sales of iron ore to the immense benefit of international competitors.

Australia remains far and away the biggest exporter of iron ore to China, sending 351.1 million tonnes to the Middle Kingdom in 2012. Analysts believe 2013 will see Australia further increase its share of the global iron ore market.

South Africa managed to increase of its share of iron ore sales to China despite violent labor unrest in its resources sector last year which led to numerous deaths as well as severe losses for leading miners.

Anglo American (LON:AAL) subsidiary Kumba lost 2.2 million tonnes of finished iron ore as a result of a strike by 300 workers demanding increased wages. The company stated last week that headline earnings are set to decline to between R11.65 and R12.25bn from R17bn in 2011 as a result of both low iron ore spot prices and labor unrest.