Coal has leapfrogged gold as South Africa’s most important resource, contributing more to gross domestic product, according to StatsSA.
As the resource has become critical for electricity generation in South Africa, a protracted coal mining strike could leave the economy in a worse state than if gold-sector negotiations turn sour.
Xavier Prévost, senior coal analyst at XMP Consulting, said coal was the top contributor to South Africa’s GDP in 2014 with 101.5 billion rand ($8.319 billion US) in revenue.
Gold was at R46.8 billion ($3.83 billion US) , behind Platinum Group Metals (PGM) and iron ore, which generated R77.5 billion ($6.35 billion US) and R58.7 billion ($4.81 billion US) in revenue respectively.
“Coal (is the most important commodity for the future of South Africa’s economy) because it is our source of energy. Without it the whole country will be paralysed, including the gold, iron ore and PGM mines,” said Prévost.