The benchmark JSE Top40 index lost 1.65 percent at 45873.22 points, while the broader all share index declined 1.57 percent to 52672.75 points.
Iron ore producers were among the biggest losers after iron ore futures in China retreated more than 6 percent on Tuesday to their weakest level since January, pressured by a sustained drop in steel prices on concerns about oversupply.
African Rainbow Minerals tumbled 10.7 percent to R85, Assore dropped 9.4 percent to R221 and Kumba Iron Ore was down 8.89 percent to close at R170.04.
Nedbank, the largest investor in Nigeria’s Ecobank, weakened 3.45 percent to R224.56 after it flagged the pan-African lender’s fourth-quarter losses. Ecobank reported a loss for 2016 blaming a recession in Nigeria and a strong US dollar.
Aspen Pharmacare, Africa’s largest generic drugmaker, dropped 4.14 percent to R268.50 after a report in Britain’s Times newspaper accused the firm of withholding drugs to try to drive up prices in European markets.
Aspen declined to comment on specific allegations because it could be in breach of sub-judice laws that apply to matters that are the subject of legal processes.