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Platinum output to rise in 2012


Zimbabwe together with South Africa will anchor global growth of platinum supplies and output is projected to continue on a growth path next year, a platinum 2011 interim review report has shown.

Global platinum supply is expected to increase by 6% to 6,4-million ounces this year, with a modest 3% rise in platinum production to 4,78 million ounces expected from the world’s biggest producer, South Africa.

“In Zimbabwe, we forecast another increase in production despite continuing uncertainty over mine nationalisation.

Although interruptions to output due to the political situation cannot be ruled out, we anticipate that 2012 will be a growth year as a result of investment already made by all producers to expand projects,” reads part of the 2011 interim report.

The country has seen significant increase in investments into platinum in recent years. In September platinum mining giant Zimplats said it would proceed with its $460 million expansion programme.

“Growth in the primary supply of platinum is largely dependent on Zimbabwean and South African mines reaching production targets,” Johnson Matthey general manager for marketing and publications Jeremy Coombes told Mining Weekly Online.

North American platinum production is projected to rise to 360 000 ounces from 200 000 ounces in 2010 and Zimbabwe’s output could grow by 20% to 435 000 ounces.

“The most production growth would come from outside South Africa, which suffered from poor productivity in the first half of the year, with platinum shipments from North America and Zimbabwe expected to rise this year,” Johnson Matthey principal analyst Alison Cowley said.

The report said China’s attempts to engineer a soft landing for its economy appear to have been successful in slowing growth to more sustainable levels, but now risk lowering domestic demand.

It said prospects for economic growth in 2012 are most promising in the rest of the World region, however, even in fast-growing countries such as Brazil and India, consumer confidence appears to be faltering.

Supplies of platinum from South Africa are said to have potential to rise modestly in 2012 as a result of improved underlying production despite the industry still facing possible disruption. Recent developments give grounds for cautious optimism.

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