The mining sector was an important contributor to South Africa’s GDP and economic growth last year, according to a report.

Ernst & Young’s 2009: The Year of Survival and Revival states that half of the country’s export earnings were derived from mining, with the industry contributing 5.3% to GDP growth in the third quarter of last year.

With the exemption of gold, South Africa’s commodity production improved in 2009, aided by strengthening prices.

During 2009, 31 mining and metals transactions reached financial closure in South Africa or by South African-based firms abroad.

While the volume of transactions was down 20% year-on-year, the total value of these transactions reached $2.9bn, up 373% from the previous year.