Country’s mining output falls to its lowest in 30 years
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JOHANNESBURG - THE COUNTRY’S output annual mining production last year shrank 10.7 percent to its biggest annual decline since 1990, falling 0.5 percent in December compared with November.
Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) said yesterday that the output eased 0.1 percent higher year-on-year following a downward revised 9.4 percent slump in November.
StatsSA said, however, that the production was higher than an expected market decline of 8 percent.
FNB economist Thanda Sithole said the retrospective upward revisions in the monthly mining output data implied that the sector’s contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP) in the third quarter could have been higher.
Sithole said the quarter saw the output grow 288.3 percent quarter-on-quarter seasonally and annualised, contributing 11.8 percentage points to overall real GDP growth in that quarter.
“Today’s data shows that in the fourth quarter of 2020 seasonally adjusted total mining output contracted 1.8 percent quarter-on-quarter annualised.
“We estimate that, based on this moderate contraction, the mining sector’s GDP likely shaved off around 0.13 percentage points from real GDP growth in the fourth quarter of 2020,” said Sithole.
Mining production declined sharply in the first two quarters of 2020, reflecting the impact of the Covid-19 disruptions on operations.
StatsSA said total mineral sales were 10.4 percent higher in 2020 compared with 2019. South Africa’s mineral sales recorded a 10.8 percent increase in 2019 and 5.2 percent in 2018.
Mineral sales increased by 23.8 percent year-on-year in December 2020 with the largest positive contributors being iron ore, which increased 59 percent and contributed 8.2 percentage points.
“Mineral sales remained strong as they continued to benefit from higher commodity prices and better operating conditions at key ports,” the Nedbank Group Economic Unit said.
This month the Minerals Council South Africa said that minerals export sales grew to R575.1 billion in 2020 compared to R462.5bn in 2019.
It said the combination of better commodity prices and the less than expected contraction of world demand during the
Covid-19 crisis resulted in the value of exports growing at a surprising rate, ending at an estimated 24 percent higher during 2020 than in 2019 and compensated for lower physical production.
Nedbank Group Economic Unit said that the monthly increase in December marked the departure from the deep contractions seen in March 2020, although the total volume rose by a marginal 0.1 percent year-on-year.
“In the fourth quarter, mining output contracted by an annualised 1.8 percent quarter-on-quarter suggesting that the sector will be a drag on quarterly GDP figures.
For the year as a whole, aggregate volume slumped 10.7 percent, higher than the 6.7 percent contraction recorded in 2009 when the economy was hurt by the global financial crisis,” the unit said.