Why has the South32 share price tanked 4% to a 2-year low today?

It's been a bad day to own South32 shares…

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It's been a decent showing today for most ASX 200 shares and the S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO). At the time of writing, the ASX 200 has put on a tentative 0.17%. But the same certainly cannot be said of the South32 Ltd (ASX: S32) share price.

South32 shares are having a shocker today, no way around it. The mining stock closed at $3.25 a share yesterday but opened at $3.20 this morning before falling to a low of $3.09. Not only was that an intra-day low for South32, but it was also a new 52-week low and the lowest the miner has traded at since September 2021.

The shares have only slightly recovered off of that new floor at present, and are currently going for $3.11 each, down 4.31% for the day. So what's gone so wrong for South32 today that has prompted investors to give the company such a dramatic whack?

Why has the South32 share price just hit a new 52-week low?

Well, the first thing to point out is that it's not just South32 that is down in the dumps today. Most ASX mining shares are suffering similar fates.

For example, BHP Group Ltd (ASX: BHP) shares have lost 2.35% over today's trading and are down to $44.49 each. Fortescue Metals Group Limited (ASX: FMG) stock has lost 1.65% to $22.97. And Rio Tinto Limited (ASX: RIO) shares have gone backwards by 2.18% today to $119.16 a share. So something is clearly spooking the herd here.

And we might have a culprit. As my Fool colleague Bernd covered this afternoon, the latest trade data out from China has unveiled a 6.4% drop in overseas shipments, which was reportedly below expectations.

Like most miners, China is an important market for South32. So any indication of economic weakness is not going to be well received by investors.

Further, we have also seen some falls in commodity prices recently. According to Bloomberg, prices of copper, aluminium, lead and tin are all down at their most recent pricing, with aluminium dropping almost 1%.

As we covered just yesterday, aluminium is one of South32's most important commodities.

So it looks as though this perfect storm of negative catalysts has combined to give South32 shares this day that investors probably wish to forget.

At the current South32 share price, the ASX 200 mining stock is now down just over 21% year to date.

Motley Fool contributor Sebastian Bowen has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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