Picture: Tiro Ramatlhatse
JOHANNESBURG - Statistics SA said yesterday that mining production had increased 2.4percent year-on-year in January and above market expectations of a 1percent gain. 

It said the output had increased faster for iron ore, non-metallic minerals and diamonds but slowed for platinum metals groups (PGMs), manganese ore and building materials. Investec economist Lara Hodes said iron ore had made the largest contribution to the topline growth since the beginning of 2018, followed by PGMS:  “Miners have been supported by robust commodity prices, with the Economist metals index averaging highs over the last few months last seen several years ago, shielding them to some extent from the strong rand.” 

Stats SA also reported that mineral sales had increased 1.8percent year-on-year in February compared to an increase of 3.4percent on a yearly basis in January. 

It said the largest contributors to this increase were coal and manganese ore. While mining output inched up in the period, economists believe that the sector risked being a negative contributor to first-year growth. 

FNB senior economic analyst Jason Muscat said that for the three months to February, output was down 2.4percent quarter-on-quarter and was likely to detract from first quarter gross domestic product (GDP) growth.