Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 25 February 2009 – South Africa’s gold output fell by 13.6% to 220 127 kg in 2008 – the lowest level since the 218 031 kg produced in 1922.
Revealing this in a statement issued here, the Chamber of Mines said the power crisis last year which led to mines shutting for five days, as well as the mining of lower grades, had contributed to the decline.
The statement added that in the fourth quarter of 2008, South Africa’s total gold production had decreased by 0.9% to 55 242 kg compared to the previous quarter. On a year-on-year basis gold production in the fourth quarter was down by 10.7%.
The Chamber said that the closure of gold mines due to a major power shortage in South Africa between 24 and 31 January last year was the first time the gold mining sector had been closed since the Anglo Boer war between 1900 and 1902. “The 13.6% decline was also the largest single drop in gold production since the strike-induced 13.8% decline in 1922," it added.
In 2008, South Africa slipped to number three after China and the United States in the stakes for the world’s main gold producers, the Chamber said. South Africa had fallen behind China in 2007 to become the world’s second largest producer.
The Chamber quoted metals authority London-based GFMS Limited, which has said that world gold production fell by 4% in 2008, largely due to large declines in output by Australia, Indonesia and South Africa.
But the Chamber was quick to point out that, despite the decline in production, South Africa’s gold mining sector was still a crucial part of the economy.
In 2008, the employed 166 000 people and accounted for about 2.5% of the country’s gross domestic product. It earned about 7%, or about R48 billion, of the country’s exports.
The South African Chamber of mines groups the country’s big gold miners and negotiates on their behalf with either the government or workers unions. Its members include AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields and Harmony, which are respectively the third, fourth and fifth biggest world producers of the yellow metal.