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  • South Africa leads platinum output recovery, says GlobalData

    Tue Dec 14 2021


    Global platinum production is expected to recover by 21.9% this year after a steep decline in 2020, says data analytics consultancy GlobalData, which adds that the recovery in the automotive and jewellery sectors has led to a rise in demand for platinum production, which will reach 6-million ounces (moz).


    GlobalData mining analyst Vinneth Bajaj notes that the largest increase in platinum demand was seen within the automotive sector, at 27.1% growth, adding that “this was largely used for manufacturing autocatalysts, a system built into car exhausts that reduces dangerous exhaust pollutants”.

    However, Bajaj comments that this growth in demand is expected to slow between 2021 and 2025, expanding at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of just 2.2% owing to the gradual replacement of internal combustible engine (ICE) cars with electric vehicles (EVs).


    Jewellery fabrication was another key contributor to this year’s platinum recovery, with demand growing by 5.3%.

    Research by GlobalData has identified South Africa as a key contributor to platinum production recovery, with the country having accounted for 72% of this year’s production. This was followed by Russia (10.4%), Zimbabwe (8.2%) and Canada (3.9%).


    “Platinum’s recovery in 2021 will largely be thanks to South Africa, the world’s biggest platinum producer, which is expected to achieve a 34.7% rise in output by the end of the year,” Bajaj states, noting that the country’s platinum production was significantly impacted owing to Covid-19 restrictions, particularly during the second quarter of 2020 when strict lockdown measures were enforced.


    However, Bajaj says the global vaccination programme, alongside recovering automotive demand, is expected to leverage the South African production base.


    Other success stories include that of the world’s largest producer of platinum, Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), which increased production of platinum and other platinum group metals by 17% in 2021 to 3.2-million ounces, compared with 2.7-million ounces in the same period last year.


    “Amplats’ gains were largely owing to more stable output from its Anglo Converter Plant (ACP) Phase A plant, following an explosion in February 2020,” Bajaj says.


    Meanwhile, there are about 43 platinum projects currently under development across the world – six of which are under construction.


    Key upcoming projects include the Platreef (production expected to start in 2022) and Bakubung (2022) projects in South Africa; the Darwendale (2022), Mupani (2025) and Karo (2022) operations in Zimbabwe; and the Bamboo Creek (2023) operation in Australia.


    “These projects are expected to add around 600 000 oz of platinum production capacity to the global total, and are expected to be operational within the next four years” Bajaj notes.