The South African Chamber of Mines released its annual fact book in June, showing that the country’s mining sector is continuing to experience a difficult period.
According to the report, one of the biggest issues is the controversial mining charter proposed by former mineral resources minister Mosebezi Zwane, which has lead to a deep chasm between mining companies and the national government.
This compounded by the fact that production was down 9.9% in the first quarter of 2018 – following a decline of 4.4% in the fourth quarter of 2017 – lead to falling performance, it said.
Things between the two parties have taken a more positive turn with the rise of Cyril Ramaphosa to the office of the president, along with a cabinet reshuffle that placed former ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe at the head of the mineral resources department, however tensions remain the Chamber of Mines said.
While South Africa has long been understood to be one of the greatest gold producers in the world for large parts of the 19th an 20th centuries, these issues alongside steady declines in output over the last three decades mean that new global powerhouses have risen to the top.
According to Reuters’ latest Gold Survey for 2o18, global mine production inched lower by 5 tonnes last year (0.1%) to a total 3,247 tonnes – the first annual drop since 2008.
Environmental concerns and a crackdown on illegal mining were the driving force behind the drop in output in 2017, with China, Peru and Colombia all named as countries that were impacted.
In comparison Russia and Suriname saw the largest production increases led by ramp-ups at the countries’ biggest operations, while higher grades and fresh ounces were behind strong gains in Canada.
Despite these drops, China is still the world’s biggest gold producer (426.1 tonnes) Reuters found, dwarfing second place Australia with 295 tonnes.
By comparison, South Africa has steadily dropped over the years, and is now down to eighth – behind sixth-placed Peru (162.3 tonnes) and Indonesia (154.3) with 139.9 tonnes of gold produced in 2017.
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