South Africa mining output drops most in 39 years

Premier diamond mine, Cullinan, Gauteng, South Africa. Credit: Wikipedia

South African mining output dropped the most since at least 1981 in April, when the first full month of restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic brought almost all economic activity to a halt.

Total production decreased 47.3% from a year earlier, compared with an 18% decrease in March, the Pretoria-based Statistics South Africa said on its website Thursday. The median estimate of four economists in a Bloomberg survey was for a contraction of 59.4%. Output fell 34.1% in the month.

Key insights

  • The production of platinum-group metals fell 62% from a year earlier, gold output dropped 59.6% and iron ore fell 68.7%.
  • While South Africa started easing lockdown measures from May 1, mining companies were allowed to resume some operations with half their workforce from the middle of April. They could return operations to full capacity at the beginning of June.
  • Disruptions due to the virus could curb total output by about 10% this year, according to industry lobby group, the Minerals Council of South Africa.

(By Prinesha Naidoo, with assistance from Simbarashe Gumbo)

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