While global commodity prices have picked up steam in the first three months of 2018, they still have a long way to go to reach levels last seen five years ago. Demand for global commodities has cooled amid weaker Chinese economic growth. The 40% slump in the oil price over the past five years was also due to a surplus of  the stuff worldwide, as the US pumps out large quantities of shale oil.

commodity prices
Source: Charlie Bilello, director of research at the US investment firm Pension Partners

The global sugar price is now 27% cheaper than five years ago, maize is 23% down and wheat prices have lost almost a third.

The platinum price is now 43% lower compared to five years ago and gold lost 5%.

There were two big exceptions: aluminium is up 9% and the price of palladium has doubled as the metal gains popularity among carmakers, which use it to manufacture anti-pollution devices. 

The palladium price boost has helped the SA mining industry, which continues to see large declines in output. Last week Statistics SA reported that mining production fell by more than 4% in January, gold production recorded its worst month since current records began (in 1980).

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