afrol News, 13 May - As South Africa only registers slow economic growth, the country's giant mining sector now strongly contributes to economic recovery. An 11 percent growth in the sector revealed today is good news for the government.
Statistics South Africa, the national statistical agency, today published its latest facts and figures of production and sales for South Africa's mining sector. From March 2009 to March 2010, total mining production had increased by 11.0 percent, according to the agency.
"This is the third positive annual growth since December 2009," Statistics South Africa commented on the national mining sector. The sector thus again is emerging as the engine revitalising South Africa's stagnating economy.
The total mining production for the first quarter of 2010, after seasonal adjustment, increased by 4.0 percent compared with the fourth quarter of 2009, the agency added.
The main contributors to this 4.0 percent increase were diamonds - contributing 1.3 percentage points - coal and nickel - each contributing 0.9 of a percentage point - and other non-metallic minerals - contributing 0.7 of a percentage point.
Not only production had increased solidly over the last year, also mineral sales and revenues had increased significantly from February 2009 to February 2010.
The total seasonally adjusted value of mineral sales at current prices for the three months ended February 2010 reflected an increase of 12.5 percent compared with the previous three months.
The increase of 12.5 percent, representing rand 7.14 billion, was mainly due to increases in the sales value of the platinum group metals, contributing 4.6 percentage points or rand 2.6 billion. Other non-metallic minerals had contributed by 3.4 percentage points or rand 1.9 billion and coal had contributed by 3.1 percentage points or rand 1.8 billion.
The quick growth of South Africa's mining sector comes after the global financial crisis sent the sector into recession in 2008. Especially platinum prices and production was reduced drastically. But also gold production was reduced despite higher prices. A turning point was reached one year ago, with the sector recovering in a steadily hastier paste.
Mining is a key sector driving the South African economy, despite its ability to diversify over the last decades. During the last decade, the mining sector still has accounted for between 15 and 20 percent of the national economy, and for an even larger part of exports.
Despite the mining sector's key contribution to South Africa's economy and renewed growth, the sector however is not helping to tackle the country's main challenge, the rising unemployment. South African mining is becoming more effective and less labour intensive, and the sector is currently reducing its working force rather than employing new labour.
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