File photo: African News Agency (ANA)

JOHANNESBURG  - Mining production registered its fourth consecutive contraction, falling 7.5 percent year-on-year in February compared to a 3.3 percent fall the previous month, Statistics South Africa said on Thursday.

This registers as the largest fall in production since March 2016 when output fell 17.4 percent year-on-year. 

Diamonds, iron ore and gold production detracted a combined 9.1 percentage points from overall production volumes, falling 48.3 percent,  20.7 percent and 20.6 percent year-on-year respectively.

Platinum group metals (PGMs), however, made the largest positive contributor and continued to make steady gains rising 17.8 percent year-on-year in February, adding 2.8 percentage points to overall production volumes. 

Jarred Sullivan, FNB economist, said the relatively robust global demand for palladium in the automobile market continues to support the sector. 

"Overall, the mining sector has been plagued with slowing global growth, particularly in China, strike action, sluggish commodity prices and rotational load-shedding," Sullivan said.

"These factors all but confirm an uninspiring contribution from the mining sector in the first-quarter GDP release and present material headwinds for the remainder of the year."  

On the sales front, mineral sales increased by 10,6 percent year-on-year in February 2019, with the largest positive contributors being PGMs, manganese ore, iron ore, and "'other'' metallic minerals.

- African News Agency (ANA)