Platinum production set to decline by 1,2 percent

PlatinumZIMBABWE is set to record a 1,2 percent decline in platinum production this year from 405,000 ounces last year to 400,000, according to the World Platinum Investment Council (WPIC).

The WPIC’s Platinum Quarterly (for the third quarter), which was released earlier this month shows that the country will drop 5,000 ounces in output over the year, but that is a figure lower than would be expected after the country’s largest platinum producer, Zimbabwe Platinum Holdings, announced midyear that it could lose around 70,000 ounces of platinum in the financial year under review after the collapse of its Bimha mine.

Zimplats produced 240,000 ounces during the first six months this year.

On the other hand the Mimosa mine produced 110,679 ounces during the same period and is largely expected to remain steady.

In terms of the country’s other platinum producer, AngloPlat’s Unki mine, production at that mine has been on a steady rise since the mine was fully commissioned at the beginning of 2011.

And with Unki having achieved annual output of 67,000oz last year, that guidance should remain flat.

According to the WPIC stats, Zimbabwe is the fourth largest producer of platinum in the world, behind South Africa, North America and Russia.

However, Zimbabwe is believed to have the second largest platinum resources in the world after neighbouring South Africa.

Platinum output from South Africa – which produces three-quarters of mined supply of the metal – is forecast to fall 31 percent this year from 4,355 million oz in 2013 to 2,985 million oz.

This was after the country’s Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) led a damaging five-month strike among platinum miners in the country earlier this year.

North America’s platinum supply this year is expected to increase 9,8 percent to 390,000oz from 355,0000z in 2013, while Russia’s output is expected to remain flat at 740,000oz.

Overall platinum supply is forecast to fall nine percent to 7,125 million oz this year.

But Zimbabwe’s total platinum output could increase significantly next year going forward if the proposed setting up of a $3 billion platinum mine in Darwendale by Russian investors is expedited.

Initial estimates are that the proposed Darwendale platinum mine has the potential to produce around 600,000 ounces of platinum annually.

That would drive Zimbabwe’s overall annual platinum output to around a million ounces, making it the second largest platinum producer in the world, although weak platinum group metals (PGMs) prices are set to remain a concern in the outlook.

Said Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa while announcing the 2015 National Budget last month:

“The anticipated weak platinum prices in 2015 are expected to dampen platinum output. Platinum prices are projected to decline from a forecast average of $1,420/ounce in 2014, to $1,400/ounce in 2015.”

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