Archive | Platinum Group Metals

A time for change: New leadership and new technology inspired a digital revolution at Lac des Iles – by Eavan Moore (CIM Magazine – October 02, 2017)

http://magazine.cim.org/en/

In the last two years, North American Palladium’s (NAP) Lac des Iles mine, located 106 kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay, Ontario, has made a complete technological turnaround – beginning with its first fibre-optic installation in 2015 up to the launch of real-time mine management in 2017.

Advanced as part of a broader improvement program, the rapid succession of new technologies found acceptance because it came with careful attention to the needs of the mine’s workforce. Management at Lac des Iles hopes that investing in these technologies will improve its production efficiency and set an example among Canadian mines.

“Our mine site’s really been on a constant change since 2013, when we went from a ramp access mine to a shaft access mine,” said general manager Bryan Wilson. Continue Reading →

Protests test tribal authority on South Africa’s platinum belt – by Ed Stoddard (Reuters U.S. – October 8, 2017)

https://www.reuters.com/

MOGALAKWENA, South Africa (Reuters) – A new power struggle is unfolding in South Africa’s old homelands between global mining giants, traditional leaders and an impoverished rural populace.

Parts of an industry long used to labor unrest are now contending with community protests that have cut production of the country’s largest mineral export earner, platinum, and may shut some operations down altogether.

At the heart of the conflict are tribal leaders who have royal titles and feudal-style control over the homelands, poor rural areas designated to South Africa’s black majority by its former white minority rulers during apartheid. Tribal leaders are also key allies of President Jacob Zuma, whose political base has become increasingly rural, and his African National Congress party has drafted a law that would cement their control. Continue Reading →

Platinum’s Lesson for Lithium-Ion Batteries – by David Fickling (Bloomberg News – September 26, 2017)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Half a century ago, the commodities industry was in a flap about whether new, less-polluting automotive technologies would cause the world to run out of rare metals.

It wasn’t about electric batteries, but catalytic converters. Introduced in the mid-1970s in the U.S. to remove carbon monoxide and toxic hydrocarbons from car exhausts, their most important ingredients were some of the rarest elements on earth: platinum and palladium.

The so-called platinum group metals occur in large quantities in only four places. Then and now, about 90 percent of output comes from what were then apartheid South Africa and the Soviet Union. With technology moving toward widespread adoption of catalytic converters in the late 1960s, metallurgists began to worry supply would simply be insufficient. Continue Reading →

Marikana: death and fear still stalk platinum belt – by Theto Mahlakoana (Business Day – September 27, 2017)

https://www.businesslive.co.za/

The eyes of SA and the world have turned away from the platinum belt, returning there only when the Marikana massacre is commemorated every August. Yet mine workers there are being continually snuffed out.

Union leaders, fathers, sons and brothers are being gunned down by unknown assailants for reasons that may never surface. Law enforcement authorities have not paid special attention to the region to solve the crimes, despite several pleas by civil society and political formations.

In the past two weeks, the bodies of four regional leaders of the Association of Construction and Mineworkers Union (Amcu) were found riddled with bullets at the Lonmin and Impala mines. Continue Reading →

Implats May Cut 2,500 Jobs to End Losses at Biggest Mine – by Liezel Hill (Bloomberg News – September 19, 2017)

https://www.bloombergquint.com/

(Bloomberg) — Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. may cut at least 2,500 jobs at its Rustenburg mining complex in South Africa as the world’s second-largest producer of the metal seeks to stem losses and adjust to lower prices.

Impala has notified unions and the government to begin a mandated consultation process ahead of proposed cuts and restructuring at its largest operation, the Johannesburg-based company said in a statement Monday. Additional action may be needed in the future, the miner said.

The Rustenburg operations, which employ about 31,000 people, are experiencing “severe financial pressure” after costs rose and as rand-denominated platinum prices remain low, Impala said. Labor productivity and platinum output have also declined in the past few years, it said. Continue Reading →

Palladium price consensus forecasts point to end of the rally – by Frik Els (Mining.com – September 18, 2017)

http://www.mining.com/

Monday was a bleak day on precious metals markets with the glaring exception of palladium which added more than 1% to $930 an ounce, closing the gap with sister metal platinum to only $30.

At the beginning of the month, palladium futures trading in New York jumped to just shy of $1,000, the highest since 2001. The metal, mainly used to scrub vehicle emissions, is trading up 37% so far this year on a combination of strong global sales for gasoline vehicles and persistent undersupply.

2016 was the fifth year in a row of substantial deficits (1.2m ounces or 37 tonnes) as production in South Africa continues a painful decline and Russia, which together with the African nation is responsible for more than 70% of global PGM output, navigate sanctions imposed by the West. Continue Reading →

Brookfield Prepared to Exit Palladium Stake as Metal Soars – by Danielle Bochove (Bloomberg News – September 7, 2017)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Brookfield Asset Management Inc. is laying the groundwork for the possible sale of one of the world’s only dedicated palladium companies even as prices for the metal used in car pollution control devices soar.

Canada’s largest alternative asset manager is the majority owner of North American Palladium Ltd., whose main asset is a mine near Thunder Bay, Ontario with reserves of 21 million metric tons. Brookfield’s involvement began in 2013 when the company almost collapsed amid a poorly conceived expansion.

What began as a $130 million loan became a 92 percent equity stake after the company’s situation deteriorated further and it failed to find a buyer. Since then, North American Palladium has redesigned the asset and managed to post its first quarterly profit in six years as prices of the precious metal rallied. Continue Reading →

Palladium Rally Is About More Than Just Autos – by Shelley Goldberg (Bloomberg News – August 30, 2017)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Geopolitical risk has a role, too.

Palladium has been on a tear this year. Its spot price increased 45 percent year on year in the first half of 2017, and it now trades at a 16-year high. Although the rally has largely been attributed to the strong demand from the automotive industry, there’s a geopolitical risk premium baked into the price.

Approximately 67 percent of palladium produced is used in catalytic converters, which convert up to 90 percent of the harmful gases in automobile exhaust to less noxious substances.

Global auto sales, up 4 percent for the year, are driven by a global increase in SUV sales, the ongoing shift from diesel to gasoline engines in Europe (diesel engines alternatively use platinum), and tightening emission legislation. Continue Reading →

Huge opportunity to create more demand for platinum – PGI – by Martin Creamer (MiningWeekly.com – August 23, 2017)

http://www.miningweekly.com/

JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – The South African platinum industry has been investing in platinum jewellery for more than 45 years through the Platinum Guild International (PGI), which has turned platinum jewellery into an amazing South African asset.

Of all the platinum demand levers, platinum in jewellery is the one that can be activated the quickest and the most directly, which is important in light of the need of the struggling platinum industry to continue to create demand for platinum, so that upward pressure is applied on the currently low metal prices being achieved by PGI’s funders – Anglo American Platinum, Impala, Lonmin, Northam, Sibanye and Royal Bafokeng Platinum.

Jewellery, the second biggest platinum demand source, is expected to generate 1 700 000 oz of net platinum demand in 2017. Even in difficult markets, platinum demand continues to grow where marketing is focused on bridal, gemset and branded collections. Continue Reading →

Anglo American makes expensive bet on hydrogen fuel cell cars – by Barbara Lewis (Business Day – August 18, 2017)

https://www.businesslive.co.za/

London — Anglo American is placing a contrarian bet on hydrogen fuel cell vehicles as it tries to squeeze more profit from its platinum reserves, but risks being left behind as rival miners look to cash in on battery-powered cars.

A push, particularly in Europe and China, for lower-emission transport, raises the prospect of weaker demand for platinum, whose biggest industrial use is in diesel vehicles. Other big miners are positioning themselves for the shift away from the combustion engine by betting on lithium and cobalt, both used in electric vehicle batteries.

Glencore signed a major deal last October to sell 20,000 tons of cobalt products, a hitherto niche material whose production it dominates, while Rio Tinto is sitting on a large deposit of lithium. As the world’s top supplier of platinum, Anglo American is left with little choice but to remain committed to the metal. Continue Reading →

Lonmin was once valued at billions, take a look at the troubled mine – by Dineo Faku (Independent Online – August 16, 2017)

https://www.iol.co.za/

CAPE TOWN – As South Africa commemorates the fifth anniversary of the Marikana shooting, Lonmin – which saw police gun down 34 mineworkers at a koppie outside the platinum producer’s Marikana Mine – today is a shadow of its former self and the platinum sector decimated. Around 80% of platinum mines in South Africa are under water and earnings negative at current spot prices.

In the past five years 70000 jobs have been lost in the industry as companies grappled to stay afloat, and another 20000 mine workers face the prospects of losing their jobs as AngloGold Ashanti, Bokoni Platinum Mine and Sibanye Gold flagged that they would mothball shafts.

Since 2012 Lonmin once valued in billions, has lost most of its market capitalisation and is now South Africa’s worst performing platinum stock on the JSE. On August 14, 2012, its market cap was £18.32bn (R317.38bn) and yesterday it was only at £307.85 million. Continue Reading →

UPDATE 2-Lonmin to sell surplus platinum capacity to raise cash – by Sanjeeban Sarkar and Barbara Lewis (Reuters Africa – August 7, 2017)

https://af.reuters.com/

Aug 7 (Reuters) – Platinum miner Lonmin Plc said on Monday it would cut costs and sell some assets, including processing capacity of up to 500,000 ounces per year, as it battles to overcome a weak market and to preserve jobs.

Shares in the South African miner rose 1.7 percent by 1020 GMT in response to Monday’s announcement, although some analysts said it would be important to see what terms Lonmin is able to agree with potential buyers. So far this year, its shares have fallen more than 35 percent.

Platinum miners in South Africa face an array of obstacles, including very deep, narrow seams, political instability and a stubbornly low platinum price of around $950 an ounce. Continue Reading →

Best-Performing Metals as Hard to Trade as They Are to Find – by Eddie Van Der Walt (Bloomberg News – July 14, 2017)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

Even if you’d heard of this year’s best-performing metals, betting on them would probably have been a struggle. Ruthenium, iridium and the somewhat better known rhodium — used mostly in specialized products like hard disks, spark plugs and autocatalysts — have trounced almost all major commodities tracked by Bloomberg.

Prices are up at least 33 percent this year as demand improved for raw materials that are among the world’s rarest and collected as byproducts of mining the precious metals platinum and palladium.

Unlike most other commodities, which are bought and sold on exchanges around the world, these metals are quirky assets. There are few exchange-traded funds backed by rhodium and they are small and thinly traded. It’s even harder to buy and sell ruthenium and iridium, where most deals are between suppliers and industrial users. Continue Reading →

Platinum Drop Fires Social Unrest as Villagers Turn on Mines – by Kevin Crowley (Bloomberg News – June 12, 2017)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

More platinum wealth lies beneath South African soil than anywhere else on Earth, and for decades the companies that extracted the precious metal promised to help improve the lives of the impoverished people who live above their mines. Those communities are getting tired of waiting.

Demonstrations by residents around mines — many living in improvised shacks without running water — have disrupted operations run by producers including Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd., Lonmin Plc and African Rainbow Minerals Ltd.

The protesters demanded jobs and money, saying that investments outside of the mines haven’t been enough. Last month, a bus that ferries Lonmin workers was torched, forcing the company to halt operations at two shafts. Continue Reading →

Zinc, tin, nickel, platinum evoke most optimism at Junior Indaba – by Martin Creamer (MiningWeekly.com – June 8, 2017)

http://www.miningweekly.com/

JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – UK market intelligence firm CRU is most optimistic about the prospects for zinc, tin, nickel and, to a certain extent, platinum over a 12-month time horizon and named copper, bauxite, nickel and gold as good commodities to be in over the longer term.

CRU principal consultant Ben Jones told the Junior Indaba in Johannesburg on Thursday that he expected a divergence across bulk commodities and base metals. Jones formed part of a panel discussion led by Standard Bank mining head Sandra du Toit and participated in by Regarding Capital Management chairperson Piet Viljoen and Standard Bank mining research head Tim Clark.

Clark said heart had to be taken from the mining industry finding the bottom, after a period of cost cutting, and experiencing a rebound and a restart because the waning of supply had brought it into the present healthier state. Continue Reading →