Zim platinum Q3 output plummets

December 3, 2021

TINASHE MAKICHI

Zimbabwe’s platinum output in the third quarter plummeted by 4 000 ounces to 111 000 ounces , a  World Platinum Investment Council report shows.

It said several  miners had scheduled maintenance.

“Zimbabwe continued its long-term undisrupted production performance in the quarter with output of 111 000 ounces, (which however, was) a modest 4 000 ounces year-on-year decline.

“Scheduled maintenance at several concentrators was in part offset by improved smelter output following a furnace reline,” the council said.

The report said global refined production for the quarter, increasing by 7% (+101 000 ounces) year-on-year to 1 597 ounce , as the processing of semi-processed inventory in South Africa accelerated.

It said the recovery from the extreme disruption of mining operations in 2020 continued.

South African refined production during the period was boosted by the processing of around 140 000 ounces of the semi-finished inventory, accumulated because of last year’s Anglo American Platinum converter plant shutdown.

Russian supply for the period fell by 24% to 149 000 ounces  as the impact from the flooding of two mines and a concentrator building collapse in February continues. The long processing pipeline of PGMs deferred the impact from earlier in the year.

North American output remained virtually flat as disruption due to a strike at Vale’s Sudbury operation and safety related operational restrictions at Sibanye Stillwater’s mine in Montana matched Covid-19 related losses of the prior comparable period.

Going forward, underlying Zimbabwean mined output is expected to grow next year due to processing debottlenecking and mine development.

“However, the normalisation of semi-finished material through South African smelters and refineries is expected to result in Zimbabwean refined output remaining essentially unchanged at 465 000 ounces,” WPC said.

Output from Russia is forecast to increase 3% recovering from the mine flooding and concentrator building disruptions of 2021. Volumes will however be limited by planned smelter maintenance.

North America is expected to add 42 000 ounces as disruption normalises and project development progresses. However, the ramp[1]up of new production areas brings inherent risks and regional labour shortages may hamper growth.

Next year, 4% growth is expected for global platinum auto catalyst recycling, which will reach 1 559 ounces.

The global economy continues to recover despite Covid-19 flare-ups, with the International Monetary Fund projecting a growth rate of 5.9% in 2021.

However, mismatches between supply and demand persist, which will limit the recovery in industrial production, as well as dampen investment in platinum.

Total platinum demand is expected to contract by 5%.

This is due to our expectation that investment demand will fall sharply, by 86%, from its exceptionally high base in 2020.

Other demand categories, by contrast according to WPC, are expected to see gains across the board.

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