South Africa’s mining production grew by 5.3% year-on-year in September, Statistics SA (Stats SA) said in a report on Thursday.

The increase in output was boosted by platinum producers’ gradual return to productivity after a 5-month work-stoppage in the first half of the year forced the sector to its knees.

Beating expectations

The increase was better than analysts’ expectations and a Reuters poll anticipating a 3.4% year-on-year decline.

The Rand edged slightly firmer against the US dollar on Thursday after the announcement of expansion in mining output provided a rare piece of good news for Africa’s most developed economy.

Highest growth rates

The highest positive growth rates were recorded for iron ore (38.3%), manganese ore (20.1%) and diamonds (15.1%), noted Stats SA.

Iron ore contributed 5.7% to the increase in mining output, while coal contributed 1.8% and manganese ore 1.2%.

Platinum group metals (PGMs) remained a large negative contributor at -4.1%.

September production

Seasonally adjusted mining production increased by 7.0% in September 2014 compared with August 2014, reported Stats SA.

Mineral sales decreased by 10.7% in August 2014 compared to August 2013.

The major contributors to the 10.7% decrease were PGMs (contributing -8.2 percent) and iron ore (contributing -6.6 percent).

South Africa’s priorities

Earlier, Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene told a business conference that the priorities for South Africa’s economy were stabilising labour relations and increasing energy supply, according to reports.

His remarks come as state power utility Eskom, which provides almost all of South Africa’s electricity, introduced rolling black-outs for the second time this year at the start of the month.

Lack of reliable power supply was one reason rating agency Moody’s gave downgraded South Africa’s credit status last Thursday.

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