Jana Marais

South Africa’s output of platinum group metals fell the most in three months in January because of a strike at the world’s biggest platinum mine and safety-related shaft closures, Statistics SA said yesterday.

Mines produced 20 percent less platinum group metals in January than a year earlier. Overall mining output slipped 2.5 percent from a year earlier, while gold production dropped 11.3 percent, its biggest annual decline since August last year.

Workers at Impala Platinum’s Rustenburg operation, the world’s biggest platinum mine, downed tools on January 20 in a dispute over pay increases. The mine restarted operations on March 5.

“The mining sector continues to face headwinds in 2012, thus we expect growth momentum in production to remain subdued,” Standard Bank analysts said. “The expected global growth slowdown, with the recession in the euro area, coupled with China bracing for slower growth, presents the main risk to demand for South African mining products.”

Diamond production declined 25 percent year on year, iron ore grew 26 percent, manganese ore rose 39 percent and chromium ore rose 18 percent, the report said. – Bloomberg