Harmony Gold

It’s rarely a quiet day in South African mining. Last week there was the Mining Indaba conference, where the mood among many miners was one of caution; the mines minister has indicated that the controversial Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment Bill will pass within months; and negotiations over the crippling mining strikes have apparently ground to halt. Then there was the tragic death of at least 10 workers in two separate incidents at Harmony Gold (pictured).

So where next for the industry? 

South African mining stocks have had a tough time of it in the last 12 months what with strikes, outages and falling commodity prices. So you’d expect much of the bad news to be priced in.

However, Harmony Gold pulled off a surprise on Friday. The company announced a headline loss for the latest quarter of $23m, mainly due to the prolonged closure of a key mine. Its shares fell over 8 per cent to a low not seen since 2005. 

After a tumultuous 2012 of strikes and unrest, South African mining stocks are on the up. The Johannesburg Stock Exchange main index briefly hit a new all-time high on Monday, and miners have joined the recent rally.

But not everyone is participating in the upswing. Harmony Gold, the country’s third largest producer, on Monday announced the suspension of operations at one of its main mines, and warned it may even close the site for good. The shares were down around 5 per cent.