Iconic South African Mines Are Ravaged Economy’s Unlikely Savior – by Prinesha Naidoo and Felix Njini (Bloomberg News – July 6, 2021)


(Bloomberg) — The world’s deepest precious-metals mines, together with giant iron-ore and coal pits are providing an unexpected boon to a South African economy slowly recovering from its biggest contraction in a century.

Surging demand and prices for commodities including platinum-group metals, iron ore, manganese and coal are generating record mining-company profits and bolstering government revenue. That’s even as decades of dwindling output and investor reluctance to build new mines blights prospects for the industry.

“Last year, we were concerned about the lack of space to support the economy amid the severe hit from the pandemic,” Elna Moolman, a South Africa economist at Standard Bank Group Ltd., said in an interview.

“The recovery in commodities demand and their prices is providing very strong support to the economy.” President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday flagged the “significant role” the sector will play in accelerating South Africa’s recovery from last year’s coronavirus-induced slump.

The mining industry often takes center stage when South Africa’s economic fortunes dip.

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