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Mining: South Africa's economic backbone

         Date: 2012-09-17

           Tag: South Africa economic, South Africa economic backbone

Summary: South Africa sits on around 88 percent of the world's exploitable platinum reserves, 80 percent of manganese, 72 percent of chromium and 13 percent gold.

South Africa sits on around 88 percent of the world's exploitable platinum reserves, 80 percent of manganese, 72 percent of chromium and 13 percent gold.

South Africa's strife-hit mining sector directly accounts for around nine percent of GDP in the continent's largest economy and 19 percent with related activities.

It contributes 50 percent of export earnings to the continent's wealthiest country.The sector's turnover in 2010 was $36 billion of which 7.4 billion came from the platinum sector.

Coal, gold and iron respectively rake in $8.8 billion, $6.4 billion, and $5.2 billion.Separately diamonds accounted $1.8 billion.

The Chamber of Mines estimates that downstream activities bring in an additional turnover of about $24.3 billion.Mining directly employs half a million people.

In 2011, South Africa produced 4.9 million ounces of platinum, or about three three quarters of the global output of 6.5 million ounces.

The platinum belt straddles South African northwestern city of Rustenburg. The mines there are operated by Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), Impala Platinum (Implats), Lonmin, Aquarius Platinum and Royal Bafokeng Platinum.

Amplats the, world's top platinum producer, operates five mines in the Rustenburg belt. All the five which suspended operations this week have a total annual output of about 500,000 ounces.

Nearby Marikana mine, crippled by a violent wildcat strike since August 10, produces 650,000 ounces or 92% of the Lomnin's group total output in 2011.

The seven paralysed mines accounted for nearly 30 percent of South Africa's production, and approximately 21% of global platinum production last year.

On the gold front, Gold Fields whose KDC West has been hit by a strike since Sunday, last year produced 34 tonnes of gold. South Africa's total production was 187 tonnes.

South Africa is the fourth largest producer of gold in the world, contributing just 7.3 percent of the global total.


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