Northern Ireland's mining and quarrying sector suffers as production levels drop
Production levels among firms in Northern Ireland fell by 1.4% during the third quarter of the year, figures have shown.
The production index from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency said output from all four major production sectors decreased in the quarter, with manufacturing suffering a slump of 1.2%.
The worst decline was felt by the mining and quarrying sector, which was down by 7.6%.
However, output had grown by 1.6% over the year, even though it was down on the quarter before.
And Northern Ireland's year-on-year growth was healthier than in the UK as a whole, where it grew by just 1.2%.
The equivalent UK figures also show that output rose by 0.2% over the quarter.
Ulster Bank chief economist Richard Ramsey said output for mining and quarrying was now at levels previously seen in 2002, despite a recent rebound.
The quarter-on-quarter fall in manufacturing was also a new development, he said.
"Manufacturing had enjoyed six successive quarters of growth, but quarter three appears to have brought an end to this winning streak," he continued.
Also in quarter three, water supply and waste management fell by 1.7% and electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply by 1%.
The production index for quarter three had picked up by around 12.3% on a minimum level reached exactly five years earlier.
But it was still 6% below its 2008 peak - though the UK index had experienced a steeper fall of 9.7% in the same time period.
Looking at the last four quarters, manufacturing had experienced the best growth at 5% - while the poorest performer was mining and quarrying , which was down 6.3%.
Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said the year-on-year increase in the index of production was "further good news" along with falls in unemployment and growth in the workforce.
She added: "It is important that we continue to build on recent progress by encouraging research and development, expanding existing markets, and promoting inward investment."