Mining production beat expectations in March, falling less than expected, but the sector will still knock economic growth in the first quarter. Mining production decreased 1.1% year-on-year in March, after plummeting to a revised 8.1% in February, its lowest level in three years, data from Statistics SA showed on Thursday. This is the fifth consecutive contraction for the sector but a much higher outcome than the 7% contraction economists polled by Bloomberg had expected. Seasonally adjusted mining production decreased by 3.4% in the first quarter of 2019 compared with the fourth quarter of 2018 — indicating that the sector will weigh on the GDP figure for the quarter.

Production has been hard hit in recent months by strikes at gold mines led by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), where about 15,000 workers striked for almost five months at the Driefontein, Kloof and Beatrix mines. Workers returned to work at the end of April.The sector has also bee...

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