SA mining production down 29.8% in May, but rate of decline slowed from April

Sishen Iron Ore mine

THE rate of decline in South African mining production slowed in May compared to April as lockdown measures aimed at containing the spread of Covid-19 disease were relaxed, said BusinessLive.

Mining production fell 29.8% year-on-year in May, said the newspaper citing data from Stats SA, published on Tuesday. April’s fall, worse than previously reported at a revised -50.3%, was the worst on record since the agency began the series in 1980.

On a month-on-month, seasonally adjusted basis, mining production rose 44% from the previous month’s decline of a revised 36.8%, said BusinessLive.

According to a presentation produced by lobby group B4SA (Business For South Africa), mining output could fall by between 20% to 30% this year potentially resulting in the loss of 30,000 jobs.

May’s outcome was better than some economists expected, with a Bloomberg survey of six economists expecting annual production to fall 32.5%. The declines in production were broad-based with all mineral groups reporting a fall.

The largest contributors to the annual change, however, were iron ore, which fell 66.3%; platinum group metals, which declined 27.3%; and manganese, which fell 45.4%. Collieries producing coal for Eskom’s consumption were allowed to continue to operate, even through the initial hard lockdown implemented by the South African government in March.