SA’s mining sector has shrugged off the effects of the shutdowns introduced in March 2020, with production now back to pre-Covid levels.
Mining production was up 10.3% year-on-year for July 2021, with more than half this improvement coming from iron ore and platinum group metals (PGMs), according to a report released this week by Statistics South Africa.
Gold and chromium also made sizeable contributions to the overall improvement in production.
Volume of mining production (base: 2015 = 100)
Stats SA shows how the Covid-related mining shutdowns impacted mining volumes, which were down by half the normal levels of production in April 2020. This was followed by a brisk recovery, with mining volumes now at pre-Covid levels.
Even more impressive is the value of mineral sales at current prices.
Mineral sales at current prices increased by 32.6% year-on-year in July 2021, with PGMs accounting for most of this improvement, followed by iron ore.
Total value of mineral sales at current prices
Also released this week was the Statistics SA Mining Report 2019, showing coal and PGMs accounting for 28% of total mining revenue for 2019, followed by iron ore (12%), gold and uranium (11%), manganese ore (6%), chrome ore (4%) and other types of mining (8%).
Diamonds, once a mainstay of the SA mining sector, now account for just 3% of total mining revenue.
Perhaps more concerning is the steady loss of mining jobs. Employment in the mining industry declined from 538 144 in 2012 to 514 859 in 2019 (a loss of 23 285 jobs).
The biggest losses in jobs were recorded in the mining of gold (42 000) and PGMs (8 000). However, there were gains in coal lignite mining (17 000) and ‘other mining and service activities’ (5 000).
The largest contributor to salaries and wages was North West (R28.7 billion or 27%), followed by Limpopo (R22.5 billion or 21,2%) and Mpumalanga (R19.7 billion or 18,7%).
In terms of employment, North West was the largest contributor with 150 003 (29.1%) persons working in the industry, followed by Limpopo (110 319 or 21.4%), Mpumalanga (94 804 or 18.4%) and Gauteng (69 965 or 13.6%).
Listen to Simon Brown’s interview with Pan African Resources CEO Cobus Loots in this MoneywebNOW podcast (or read the transcript here):