Cry, the Beloved Gold Industry: South Africa’s output experiences record plunge

JOHANNESBURG — South Africa’s gold industry keeps getting hammered as ageing mines and problematic policies continue to throttle production levels. The only bright spark in these numbers below are the upticks in platinum production. But amid a floundering platinum price, the impact of this may not be experienced on the ground. Also, the platinum industry is currently busy cutting thousands of jobs. What’s needed now is clearer, friendlier policies from Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe. – Gareth van Zyl 

By Ana Monteiro

(Bloomberg) – Gold output in South Africa, once the world’s biggest producer of the metal, declined the most since February 2017 in May.

Production dropped 16.2 percent from a year earlier, compared with a revised 5.8 percent contraction in April, Pretoria-based Statistics South Africa said Thursday in a statement on its website. That’s an eighth straight month of decreases.

Gold bullion bars sit following casting at a refinery in Germiston, South Africa. Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

Total mining output shrank for a third month, dropping 2.6 percent from a year earlier compared with a revised 4.4 percent retreat in April, it said. Production of platinum-group metals, of which South Africa has the largest known reserves, increased for the first time in six months, expanding 9.6 percent from a revised 6.3 percent contraction a month earlier.

Aging infrastructure, reserve depletion and accidents have raised costs and curbed mines’ output in South Africa. Mining companies came under added pressure late last year and in the start of 2018 from the stronger rand and have responded by closing shafts and cutting thousands of jobs in a labour-intensive industry.

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