Tawanda MusarurwaThe country’s first quarter platinum output declined marginally from 120 000 ounces in the previous quarter to 110 000 ounces, according to the latest World Platinum Investment Council (WPIC) Platinum Quarterly.
The numbers show that Zimbabwe was the only country to record a decline in the period under review.
Zimbabwe, home to the world’s second largest known deposits of platinum after South Africa, has three producing mines namely Zimplats, Mimosa and Unki, which are all head-quartered in South Africa.
Other top countries that produce platinum include South Africa, North America, and Russia.
Global supply of refined platinum for the first quarter production rose 18 percent (+230 000oz) year-on-year to 1 525 000oz in the first quarter of 2019.
This increase was mainly attributable to neighbouring South Africa, where two unplanned furnace outages impacted refined production in the prior year period.
“South African output climbed by 21 percent (+195 000oz) year-on-year to 1 105 000oz. Smaller increases in output also occurred in North America (+10 000oz, project ramp-up), Russia (+25 000oz, planned rise in output for 2019) and other regions (+5 000oz).
“There was a slight dip in output in Zimbabwe (-5 000oz). Total mining supply is estimated at 1 530 000oz for the first quarter, an increase of 245 000oz (+19 percent) year-on-year,” said WIPC.
Total global demand for platinum is expected to increase by 8 percent in 2019 on the back of a strong increase in investment demand.
Supply is expected to rise by 4 percent this year. However, potential power disruptions and industrial action represent risks that could materially reduce South African mining supply during the year.
With demand projected to increase more than supply, the annual 2019 market balance will narrow sharply to a surplus of 375 000oz from the previously forecast surplus of 680 000oz.
Zimbabwe’s performance in the first quarter was largely in line with overall production expectations for the current year.
But ramp-up of on-going projects and the development of new platinum projects in the country going forward are expected to provide impetus for increased output going forward.
Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando has said the country’s platinum sector is set for a boon as Government will soon “commission three new platinum ore bodies.”
Zimbabwe is home to the world’s second largest known deposits of platinum after South Africa.
Meanwhile, WPIC chief executive Paul Wilson has said: “Today’s report shows significant investment demand growth – an indication that platinum demand growth potential is finally outweighing long standing negative sentiment.
“The market may have previously underestimated the significant positive impact on platinum demand likely as more platinum is used in emissions control in gasoline cars and the prospect of more clean new diesels on the road. We publish today’s figures at the start of the hugely important annual Platinum Week in London.
“The marked turnaround by investors, that has been anticipated for several years yet failed to materialise, will be high on the agenda for most attendees. We believe this turnaround follows the combination of several demand growth signals, downside supply risk and rising price.
“The opportunity for the global platinum market to grow remains undiminished.
“I have been personally encouraged by the number of leading global players keen to partner with us to deliver further platinum investment growth, particularly in the US and China.”
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