South Africa - Country Commercial Guide
Mining Equipment
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Table: Total Market Size for Mining Equipment; 2020-2024





Total Market Size 270,000 290,000 320,000330,000
Total Local Production 45,000 48,000 53,00060,000
Total Exports 19,000 23,000 28,00035,000
Total Imports 135,000 128,000 236,000400,000
Imports from the U.S. 20,000 20,000 25,00075,000
Exchange Rate: 1 $ 15.9 16.00   


Unit: $thousand 

Data Sources:  Above figures are unofficial estimates obtained from industry sources. 

Note:      Figures include exploration and extraction equipment, but exclude beneficiation and bulk transportation equipment. 

The challenges in the mining industry, such as high input costs, environmental, health and safety regulations, a troubled relationship between management and organized labor, a fluctuating exchange rate, and logistic inefficiencies have since 2020 been partially offset by the recovery in commodity prices, most notably Platinum Group Metals (PGM) The structural malaise in the mining sector has been aggravated by uncertainty regarding Government intentions on mining rights, and investors remain cautious.  However, South Africa is a major supplier of Platinum Group Metals (PGM), coal, iron, manganese, chrome, and nickel. It also has certain Rare Earth Element (REE) deposits and related specialty refining infrastructure. 

Sub-Sector Best Prospects                                                                                     

The South African mining industry is well-developed and sophisticated. Many local equipment and service providers as well as organized events exist to facilitate the distribution of goods or services into the African continent. South Africa remains an important steppingstone to develop that area. U.S. goods and services in the following fields are well represented in South Africa: 

  • Software 
  • Furnaces 
  • Drill Rigs 
  • Automation 
  • Mining Processing 
  • GIS Sensing and Mapping 
  • Communications Systems 
  • Materials Extraction and Handling Technology 


Mining and related projects have traditionally been responsible for significant infrastructure development. For example, 2,200 miles of railway line, three new ports and a large amount of bulk handling infrastructure at other ports remain in planning stages of both the South African Government and mining consortia. Increasing the efficiency of material handling systems is high on the agenda of exporters of ores and minerals.   

Mining contributes about eight percent to the gross domestic product (GDP) of South Africa from a high of 20 percent in the early 1990s.  The industry has been in decline for more than two decades due to: 1) the need for policy certainty; 2) clarity on environmental issues such as the carbon tax; 3) the regulatory framework; 4) infrastructure issues including electricity, ports, and railroads; and 5) security issues.  Production and sales in 20232 showed year-on-year growth, however, thanks to strong demand from world commodity markets.  The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) is working to spur exploration by streamlining the licensing regime to address a backlog of 5,000 exploration license applications to grow South Africa’s stagnant exploration spending. Investment in new mining projects has come to a virtual standstill. 

South Africa’s national mineral research organization Mintek is seeking foreign government and private sector investment to help fund the creation of critical minerals processing infrastructure and the development of clean technologies.  The most promising proposals center around the development of a processing facility for rare earth elements (REE) sourced from across the Southern Africa region, the production of high-grade battery materials, and the development of a green hydrogen fuel cell manufacturing industry.  South Africa already provides significant quantities of nine of the 35 critical minerals the U.S. Secretary of the Interior identified as key components of “economically significant applications” in the United States and the country holds 91 percent of the world’s reserves of platinum group metals (PGMs), which are vital in hydrogen fuel cell manufacturing 

Recent mining infrastructure plans include: 

  • Saldanha Bay iron and steel ore bulk export hub. 
  • Coega Port infrastructure development focused on the creation of a dedicated rail line for the          export of manganese from the Northern Cape and the creation of a chlorine plant. 
  • Further enhanced bulk material handling systems at the port of Richards Bay. 


Mining Weekly Publication 

Minerals Council South Africa 



Mining Indaba 2024 

Africa Mining Investment Conference and Exhibition 

5 – 8 February 2024 

CTICC, Cape Town 


Electra Mining Africa 2024 

Mining, Industrial & Construction, Transport Exhibition and Conference 

2 – 5, September 2024 

MTN Expo Centre, Nasrec, Johannesburg


For more information, contact the U.S. Commercial Service in Johannesburg, South Africa, via e-mail at:; Phone: +27 11 290 3208; or visit our Website: