Huge Increase in South African Platinum and Palladium Output.|
"South African producers will raise platinum production by 1.9 million ounces in the first half of the decade, offsetting an expected shortfall from Russia.
"A planned massive production increase by South African producer Amplats, surprised the market. Less than twenty four hours earlier, Johnson Matthey, Amplat's agent said that there would be a 1 million ounce rise over three years. Most of the 26 per cent production increase would take place in 2001, said Johnson Matthey's latest annual review of platinum, palladium and rhodium.
"That metal isn't coming from the virtually depleted Russian stockpile, said Jeremy Coombes, head of precious metals marketing at JM. The Russians sold 540 000 ounces in 1999, down 58 per cent from 1998 levels and the entire amount came from the Gokhran (Treasury) stockpile. This year, "a tiny amount of platinum" has come from the Gokhran, said Coombes. It indicates that almost all Russia's future platinum exports will be from nickel producer Norilsk, which mines palladium, platinum and rhodium as a by-product.
"...The US National Defence stockpile was run down by 215 000 ounces to help alleviate the shortfall. There are now only 150 000 ounces left.
"Russian Palladium Stockpile Is Still High
"Russian shipments of palladium were interrupted by the imposition of an export tax, but still accounted for two thirds of world supply, totalling 8.06 million ounces. Auto catalyst demand soared to 5.88 million ounces from 4.89 million as motor companies stockpiled a metal that is subject to major swings in supply. Heavy sales from the Tiger Fund and the National Defence Stockpile, helped keep the price under control in 1999, but this year it surged to $860.
"There is more than sufficient potential Russian palladium supplies. Coombes estimates that Norilsk produced 2.4 million ounces out of total Russian exports of 5.4 million ounces last year. There's a lot more in the Gokhran stockpile, he says. Since Norilsk produces a much greater proportion of palladium, the expected increase in production will cause supplies to soar. South African palladium production will also rise sharply."
Full story by Neil Behrmann on Miningweb at Moneyweb