Environmental Economic Accounts Compendium

South Africa’s natural resources in the spotlight

The natural environment provides resources that drive the economy and other human activities. Stats SA recently released estimates on the amount of energy, mineral and fishery resources available in South Africa, and the extent to which these are being consumed.

The following are three interesting observations from the 2015 Environmental Economic Accounts Compendium.


Coal as the main source of energy for South Africa

Coal continues to be the primary source for South Africa’s energy supply. Figures from 2010 show that 67% of South Africa’s energy supply was from coal, followed by crude oil (15%) and petroleum products (14%). Nuclear power provided 2% of South Africa’s energy supply.



Platinum group metals set to outlive both coal and gold

At current production levels, South Africa will exhaust its proven platinum group metal (PGM) reserves in 248 years, coal in 116 years, and gold in 39 years. Stats SA has previously highlighted the declining role of the gold mining industry in South Africa1.There are an estimated 6 000 tons of proven gold reserves remaining. Proven PGM reserves are sitting at an estimated 63 000 tons, and coal at 30 156 million tons.



Abalone: measuring a scarce resource

Commercial harvesting of abalone was banned in February 2008 in an attempt to curb rapidly decreasing stocks. Named ‘perlemoen’ by locals, the rapid disappearance of the once abundant shellfish was largely blamed on rampant illegal fishing. Commercial harvesting was later reinstated in July 2010 on a limited basis.

Measuring the stocks and depletion rates of scarce resources is important to ensure the drafting of effective environmental management policies. The closing stock for abalone decreased from 6 096 tons in 2003 to 3 364 tons in 2012, a drop of 44,8% over the ten-year period. Total catches for abalone declined by 59,4% from 234 tons in 2003 to 95 tons in 2012.


Download the Environmental Economic Accounts Compendium here

1 The decreasing role of gold mining in South Africa https://www.statssa.gov.za/?p=4252

Photo: Rodger Bosch, http://www.mediaclubsouthafrica.com/