The decline of South Africa’s mining sector in five charts

Five revealing charts, put together by Paul Miller, director of mining consultancy AmaranthCX, show the decline of South Africa's once vibrant mining sector. The information is based on Miller's own number crunching as well as South African Reserve Bank, S&P Capital IQ and Fraser Institute data.

The charts show the sharp fall over the past 26 years in the number of active, publicly listed mining companies on the JSE and the utter collapse of exploration spending. And if exploration is not being done, there will be little in the way of new mine construction on the horizon as mining is an industry with very long lead times. Investors are clearly rattled by the South African mining sector’s plethora of problems: policy uncertainty, social and labour unrest, soaring costs, unreliable power supplies and “procurement mafias” literally trying to muscle for a cut of what’s left.

Minerals and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe in February 2019, during a debate on the State of the Nation Address in the National Assembly, said: “We intend to secure a minimum of 5% of the global exploration budget within the next three to five years.” 

Almost three years later, these charts show South Africa’s share of global exploration budgets stands at only 0.76% despite the recent boom in commodity prices. South Africa is not remotely close to the minister’s target. The sun is rising over mining industries elsewhere. In South Africa, it is setting at a tropical pace. 

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper which is available for R25 at Pick n Pay, Exclusive Books and airport bookstores. For your nearest stockist, please click here.


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  • This ship had a long stay in our ports but fees forced her to sail!
    Maybe we need to attract manufacturing quickly, BEFORE our sophisticated logistic system collapses completely?

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