HARARE – Zimbabwe’s platinum production last year declined 2 percent to 470 000 ounces (oz) from 480 000oz previously, according to latest figures from the World Platinum Investment Council (WPIC).
The downward movement was however largely in line with the trend in the broader platinum sector as global platinum supply slid marginally to 8 010 000oz.
Zimbabwe is the third largest producer of platinum in the world, accounting for 8 percent of global refined platinum output, behind Russia at 9 percent and South Africa at 74 percent.
“Total platinum supply fell marginally to 8,010 000oz in 2018 owing to lower mining supply, as recycled platinum increased modestly.
“Refined production slipped 1 percent to 6,085 000oz following lower output from Zimbabwe (-10 000oz), Russia (-45 000oz), and North America (-5 000oz), while production was marginally higher in South Africa (+10 000oz),” said WPIC
“Output from Zimbabwe fell by 2 percent (-10 000oz) to 470 000oz because of work-in-progress (WIP) material processing in 2017.”
Zimbabwe’s operating platinum miners are all headquartered in South Africa, namely Zimbabwe Platinum Holdings (Zimplats), Unki Platinum, and Mimosa Platinum.
Going forward, the WPIC has projected that Zimbabwe’s production will remain at 470 000oz this year.
“Output from Zimbabwe and Russia is expected to remain stable at 470 000oz and 675 000oz respectively.”
This is despite the fact that global platinum supply this year is expected to increase.
“Total platinum supply is forecast to increase by 5 percent to 8,420 000oz in 2019, as both primary and secondary supply are expected to grow. Global refined production is forecast to expand by 6 percent to 6,460 000oz (+375 000oz) this year, mostly owing to higher production in South Africa (+315 000oz), where material held up in the processing pipeline during 2018 will be refined, and North America (+50 000oz),” said the international platinum sector monitoring body.
Said WPIC chief executive Paul Wilson:
“It is encouraging to see investment demand for platinum growing rapidly in 2019, and we expect this trend to continue. We believe our ongoing efforts in product development through global partnerships, plus platinum’s discount to gold will support continued, solid retail investment in bars and coins.”
And with total demand expected to rebound by 5 percent this year, the increase in supply should see the market surplus is projected to expand modestly to 680 000oz.
Platinum has strong usage in the automative industry.
The experts foresee automotive demand falling at a far slower rate than in 2018, declining 3 percent year-on-year to 3,000 000oz this year, compared to a 7 percent decline in 2018.
“The smaller decline is partly attributable to a stabilisation of demand in light-duty diesel autocatalysts in India,” said WPIC.