Mining production in South Africa fell 4.3 per cent year-on-year in April, the second fall in as many months for what was once the world’s dominant gold producing country.

April’s figures, released by Stats SA on Thursday, follow March’s 8.4 per cent fall, which was the biggest reduction in mining production in two years. However, April’s figures beat the expectations of a Reuters poll, which had anticipated production would fall 5 per cent year-on-year.

The fall was driven by reductions in output of platinum, diamonds, gold and ‘other’ metallic minerals, Stats SA said. In the three months to April, 10 out of the 12 mineral groups measured reported negative growth rates.

However, mineral sales increased by 6.1 per cent year-on-year, driven by manganese ore and coal. Nevertheless, in the quarter to April the seasonally adjusted value of mineral sales at current prices was 6.2 per cent lower compared with the previous three months.

South Africa’s economy suffered its biggest quarterly shrink in almost a decade in the first three months of the year, with mining, manufacturing and agriculture all recording significant declines. Mining activity, a key part of the economy, declined by a tenth over the quarter.

The industry has also faced legal challenges this year, following the publication of a new charter last year that seeks to force companies to give more ownership to black shareholders to address economic inequality. The Chamber of Mines said the industry was not consulted on the changes, and began legal action to delay the implementation of the new regulations. A rework of the legislation is in progress.

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