Gold production at local mines dropped by 7,6percent in March compared with the same month last year and by 4,4percent in the first quarter of the year.
Economists said the industry was expected to get smaller as South Africa had mined the bulk of its gold.
Statistics SA said yesterday that the country's total mining production declined by 4,6percent in March and by an overall 9,4percent in the first quarter of this year.
The total seasonally adjusted value of mineral sales at current prices for the three months ended in February reflected a decrease of 20percent compared with the previous three months.
Dawie Roodt, Efficient Group economist, said he had expected gold production to decline but not by 7,6percent. "The seven percent sounds worse than expected," said Roodt.