After four years of sector underperformance due to oversupply and a lack of demand, miners present a buying opportunity in 2014, according to analysts.
"Looking ahead, the downside risks seem to be diminishing and overall we feel that the big shocks that we've seen over the last two or three years are done and dusted and an environment of greater stability is certainly conducive [to better commodity prices]," Marc Elliott, mining analyst at Investec, told CNBC on Monday.
"Companies have been focusing on their supply-side efficiencies to a great degree - that's a key message from the big players. They're talking about operational efficiencies, reducing the capital budgets and overall returning value to shareholders," he told CNBC's "Worldwide Exchange."
"Companies can focus on higher grade, lower-cost production -- admittedly at the expense of volume which is also supportive of commodity prices," he added.
His comments are moot points for the mining industry which has come under pressure over the last few years on the back of a decline in demand from China and a glut in supply. Both these factors have combined to weigh on miners' profits.
Last year was the fourth in a row for underperformance for general miners relative to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) All-Share Index, according to analysis by Renaissance Capital published on Monday, which noted that "mining companies underperformed despite reasonably favorable commodity prices and producer currencies, as poor capital allocation, high mining inflation and production disappointments eroded free cash flow."
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But the analysts behind the research, Johann Pretorius and Steven Friedman, said that although they maintained their long-term bearish stance on miners, some "may present a short-term buying opportunity in 2014."
The seeds were being sown for the next commodity bull market, Pretorius and Friedman said in a note published on Monday, as few new mining projects and higher construction costs "starved the market of new supply." In sum, "we think slower supply growth will eventually support higher prices," they noted.
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Furthermore, they said, commodity prices may have bottomed out as the global economic outlook improved.