MINING production plummeted the most on record in March, with a particularly sharp fall in output of platinum group metals (PGMs), Statistics SA data showed on Thursday.
Mining production fell by a record 18% year on year in March, accelerating from an 8.3% fall year on year in February.
The latest data suggest economic growth in the first quarter of the year was weak, which may support unchanged interest rates when the Reserve Bank’s monetary policy committee meets next week.
Data released on Monday showed unemployment rose to 26.7% in the first quarter, after the economy lost 355,000 jobs.
The main contributors to the decline in mining output were PGMs, coal, iron ore, manganese ore, and gold.
Output was negatively affected by lower global commodity prices and slowing demand from China, among others.
Seasonally adjusted mining production fell 3.4% in March compared with February. This followed month-on-month changes of 2.1% growth in February and a 5.5% fall in January.
Seasonally adjusted mining production fell by 5.2% in the first quarter of 2016 compared with the previous quarter, again mainly due to lower PGMs and iron ore production.
Mineral sales, however, increased by 1.6% year on year in February. The biggest positive contributor was gold. The increase in mineral sales was offset by lower iron ore sales.