Gold blues: December output plunges 31%, most in six years

By Renee Bonorchis

(Bloomberg) – Production of gold by South African mines retreated the most in six years in December as a strike at the nation’s top producer of the metal continued.

Gold output declined 31% from a year earlier, compared with a revised 14% drop in November, Pretoria-based Statistics South Africa said in a statement on its website Thursday.

Key insights

  • This represents a 15th straight month of declines in production.
  • South Africa used to be the world’s top producer of the metal but deeper ore bodies, labour strife, high costs and policy uncertainty have crimped output.
  • Sibanye Gold Ltd. said earlier this week that it was considering shutting unprofitable shafts and cutting jobs at its operations for the metal amid a three-month-old wage strike that’s curbing output. The company plans to cut more than 6,000 jobs, it said today.
  • Total mining output declined 4.8% from a year earlier, the statistics agency said.
  • Production of platinum-group metals increased 6.1% from a year earlier, it said. This is a fourth straight month of gains, the longest such streak since 2016.