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South Africa Platinum Output Rises 66% in February From Year Ago

South Africa’s output of platinum group metals surged 66 percent in February from a year earlier, when strikes curbed output at Impala Platinum Ltd., the world’s second-biggest producer of the metal.

The country’s total mining output climbed 7 percent in February from 2012, Pretoria-based Statistics South Africa said in a statement on its website. Gold production fell 4.7 percent as Harmony Gold Mining Co.’s biggest South African operation, Kusasalethu, remained closed because of strikes and violence in December.

“While the strike action aggravated the declines in gold production, which has since improved somewhat, the overall trajectory remains firmly downward as ever deeper mines, deteriorating grades and a weaker gold price weigh on gold miners,” Standard Bank Group Ltd. economists said in an e-mailed note to clients today.

South Africa is the world’s fifth-largest producer of gold and has the world’s biggest known reserves of platinum and chrome. Strikes last year disrupted production at Anglo American Platinum Ltd., Impala and Lonmin Plc, which together account for more than two-thirds of global output of the metal. Walkouts that then spread to spread to gold, coal and iron-ore operations as workers demanded higher pay, costing the continent’s biggest economy about 11 billion rand ($1.2 billion) in tax, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said on April 2.

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