Mining production rises slightly, but remains below expectations

 ·13 Feb 2024

2023 was a tough year for mining in South Africa, with the latest data from the Minerals Council South Africa showing that the mining sector’s contribution to the country’s GDP crashed 12% over the year due to the electricity and logistics crises.

However, data published by StatsSA has shown that the industry saw marginal but evident growth in certain areas for December 2023.

Mining production

Mining production in the country increased by 0.6% in December 2023 compared with December 2022 – a marginal improvement but below the prediction of a 4.9% increase.

The largest positive contributors of mining production were:

  • PGMs (9.4% and contributing 2.8 percentage points);
  • Coal (5.8% and contributing 1.3 percentage points);
  • Chromium ore (19.9% and contributing 0.7 of a percentage point).

If measured on a quarter-on-quarter seasonally adjusted basis, production is up 2.5%. Economist at Investec Lara Hodes, said that “accordingly the mining and quarrying sector will contribute positively to the fourth quarter’s GDP reading.”

Graph: Investec

Total mining production was 0.4% lower in 2023 compared with 2022. The 0.4% decrease in annual mining production followed a decrease of 7.2% in 2022 and an increase of 12.7% in 2021.

Seasonally adjusted mining production decreased by 4.2% in December 2023 compared with November 2023.

Additionally, the South African mining sector saw a decrease in production in:

  • Diamonds (-2.2% y/y);
  • Gold (-3.4% y/y);
  • Iron ore (-18.0% y/y);
  • Manganese ore (-16.9% y/y).
Table: Investec

Mineral sales

Mineral sales increased by 9.2% year-on-year in December 2023. The largest positive contributors were:

  • Gold (127.7% and contributing 11.3 percentage points);
  • Iron ore (60.6% and contributing 6.4 percentage points);
  • Chromium ore (71.4% and contributing 3.2 percentage points).

Total mineral sales at current prices for 2023 were 10.3% lower than 2022, while seasonally adjusted mineral sales at current prices increased by 4.2% in December 2023 compared with November 2023.

Source: StatsSA


Hodes said that the subdued global environment continues to weigh on demand for a number of commodities, with manufacturing sector conditions remaining lackluster.

Additionally, “domestic challenges continue to impede [South Africa’s] production and export potential,” said Hodes.

“Specifically, while commodity price movements are largely influenced by dynamics in global markets, costs can be significantly reduced, and operational efficiencies improved by urgently resolving the electricity supply and logistics crises in the country; indeed, congestion at the ports has had a significant bearing on the sector,” she added.

The Mineral Council of South Africa said that “a stable, aligned and consistent regulatory environment with efficient administration is essential to attract and retain investments in exploration, mine development, and mining.”

Read: Major blow for one of South Africa’s biggest employers

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