Russia and South Africa reach agreement on platinum

March 27, 2013

Russia and South Africa have agreed to join forces to cope with an excess supply of platinum group metals (PGM).

The two countries are the largest producers of platinum, and hold about 80 percent of global PGM reserves, Reuters reported.

The two countries, which hold about 80 percent of global reserves of platinum group metals, signed a memorandum of understanding at a summit of the BRICS emerging market powers in the South African coastal city of Durban, South African minister Susan Shabangu said.

"With platinum prices depressed, what is it that we need to do to deal with the oversupply of platinum in the market? What does it mean for us? In South Africa it's a threat to the industry, to jobs," Shabangu said.

"The issue of pricing has not been discussed," she added.

Platinum producers have faced a toxic mix of rising costs and lackluster prices in recent years due to poor demand for the white metal from the car industry, its main consumer.

"I don't think we need to look at it from the point of control. We have not spoken about controlling the markets. We've spoken about balancing the market," Shabangu said.

Russian officials said the agreement involves the exchange of information, technology and additional markets development, not prices.

"We do not plan to influence prices. We do everything in line with WTO (World Trade Organization rules)," Sergey Donskoy, Russia's minister of natural resources, said.

The main use of platinum and palladium is in the pollution-curbing converters put in cars and trucks.

Platinum and palladium markets are expected to tighten this year as a result of industrial disruption in South Africa, according to the latest report by Johnson Matthey, the world's top supplier of catalytic converters.

Shabangu mentioned the potential for production of platinum-based fuel cells for power generation as one idea for a new market. She also said the countries must find a way to ensure that recycling of platinum does not undermine the industry.



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