Mines thrive as metal prices rocket sky-high

Robert Laing

Robert Laing

Mines are making more money producing less, Statistics South Africa data released yesterday indicated.

The power crisis saw overall mining volume plunge more than 17percent in March year-on-year.

Meanwhile, soaring commodity prices saw February's sales total jump nearly 19percent to R21billion from R18billion in February 2006.

Stats SA's mining value data lags its volume data by a month.

Platinum group metals contributed nearly a third of this country's mineral sales in February.

Platinum mines seem to have been worst hit by March's power rationing with production down nearly 28percent from March a year ago. Higher prices saw their revenue grow 15,5percent to nearly R7billion in February.

The five percent more power gold mines received in March translated into an 18percent production jump from February. Compared to March last year, however, gold production was down 11percent.

South Africa's fastest growing mining sector appears to be manganese whose R931million revenue is more than four times higher than last year. Next is chromium whose sales have nearly doubled.