The mining sector does not get the credit it deserves for its contribution to the country’s economy‚ according to the South African Institute of Race Relations.

In a paper titled Diamonds and all that‚ the contribution of mining to SA‚ the institute said although the relative contribution of mining to GDP had shrunk‚ it was still the backbone of the economy.

It said mining accounted for the single-largest component of the output of four of the nine provinces‚ while six of the country’s 16 largest towns were heavily dependent on mining.

"Thanks in large part to iron ore‚ more than a fifth of the output of the Northern Cape comes from mining‚ while the dominance of coal in Mpumalanga ensures that more than a fifth of that province’s output also comes from mining‚ although copper also makes a contribution‚" the paper’s author, John Kane-Berman, said.

Limpopo‚ which contains diamonds‚ iron ore and various other minerals‚ relies on mining for 25% of its output. Largely because of platinum‚ the North West relies on mining for almost 30% of its output‚ he said in the paper.

It said two ports‚ Richards Bay and Saldanha Bay‚ were also heavily dependent on mining.

"Apart from the coal railed from Mpumalanga‚ Richards Bay exports phosphate products‚ including fertiliser and phosphoric acid‚ produced either there or at Phalaborwa in Mpumalanga‚ on the western border of the Kruger National Park."

He said Saldanha Bay depended heavily on the export of iron ore produced mainly by Kumba and railed 860km from Sishen in the Northern Cape.

Excluding Johannesburg‚ which long ago diversified far beyond mining‚ six of SA’s 16 largest towns measured by contribution to GDP were substantially dependent on mining.

This includes not only platinum but also the mining of coal for the production of liquid fuel and electricity and the manufacture of various types of steel from iron ore mined in SA.

"These towns are Rustenburg‚ Middelburg‚ Witbank‚ Secunda‚ Sasolburg and Thabazimbi. They have some of the highest figures for GDP per head in the country."

TMG Digital

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