Any thoughts that South African mining production might start picking up after the strikes and urest of last year will have to stay on hold.

The figures for December are in, and after the slight improvement in November (a revised fall of 3.8 per cent year-on-year), it’s back down we go. Production fell 7.5 per cent, almost as bad as October’s 8.1 per cent and worse than the 7.3 per cent drop of September.

The culprits? Platinum and gold. Again. This from Statistics SA:

The highest negative growth rate was recorded for PGMs (-23,2%), followed by gold (-21,2%), copper (-19,5%) and chromium ore (-13,1%). The main contributors to the 7,5% decrease were PGMs (contributing -7,1 percentage points) and gold (contributing -3,4 percentage points).

Analysts at Nomura were downbeat:

December mining data were much weaker than expected at -7.5% y-o-y for the whole industry… The broad spread weakness (though obviously with the most drag around platinum) confirms that output and disruption issues in the sector are not simply confined to the Rustenburg mine, and that there was no fast bounce back after the bulk of strike action ended in October. Indeed, while many workers have returned to work mines have said that returning production to ‘normal’ levels would be very difficult.

There was industrial action in January at Anglo American Platinum, so next month might not offer much cheer either.

Related reading:
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