South Africa Gold Output Rises First Time in 27 Months in July

South Africa’s gold production increased for the first time in 27 months in July, the statistics agency said.

Output of bullion climbed 0.9 percent from a year earlier, Pretoria-based Statistics South Africa said in a report on its website today. Total mining production rose an annual 0.6 percent in July after dropping a revised 5.4 percent a month earlier and compares with a median estimate by three analysts for a contraction of 6.1 percent. Platinum group metals output increased 4.3 percent from a year earlier.

South Africa is the world’s sixth-largest producer of gold and has the biggest known reserves of platinum and chrome. Labor unrest that started at platinum mines in August last year spread to gold, iron-ore, chrome and coal producers, costing almost 15 billion rand ($1.5 billion) in lost output, according to the National Treasury. This week, three of four unions at the country’s seven-largest gold companies signed a wage pact after a three-day strike that ended Sept. 6.

“Total mining production is likely to remain weak in the coming months, constrained by poor growth prospects globally, while domestic factors such as labor strikes and rising production costs will have a negative impact,” Nedbank Group Ltd. economists said in an e-mailed note to clients today.