GROWTH in mining production accelerated in July, mainly supported by lower base effects created by a strike at platinum mines last year and to a lesser extent by an actual increase in output.
Mining production increased by 5.6% in July this year compared with a year ago from 5.4% in June, Statistics SA data showed on Thursday.
The main contributors to the 5.6% increase were platinum group metals, which contributed 7.9 percentage points, and manganese ore, which contributed 1.2 percentage points. Iron ore and gold output contracted.
The mining sector faces several challenges, including lower commodity prices and weak demand, factors that have forced some mining companies to consider retrenchments which government is intervening to minimise.
Seasonally adjusted mining production increased by 1.1% in July compared with June following month-on-month changes of 2% in June and -4.6% in May.
Seasonally adjusted mining production decreased by 4.3% in the three months ended July compared with the previous three months, the main reason being lower iron ore and coal production.
Mineral sales increased by 11.3% year-on-year in June, with the highest positive contributions made by platinum group metals, gold, and ‘other’ non-metallic minerals.
The effect of last year’s platinum mining strike should work itself through the base in the next month or so, after which mining production numbers should soften, Nedbank economists said.
“Mining production will also be negatively impacted by poor global growth and therefore lower commodity prices as well as local infrastructure constraints — especially concerning electricity supply.”