/ 11 February 2008

Platinum price tops $1 900 on supply worries

Platinum cleared the $1 900-an-ounce mark on Monday for the first time in its history as concerns of further supply disruptions due to power shortages continued to plague the market.

The precious white metal gained $27 to trade at $1 917,50 an ounce by 1.45pm after hitting $1 890 in late after-market trade on Friday.

And Eskom’s prediction that power-supply problems were likely to continue for several weeks made “further gains seem inevitable with the metal potentially testing $2 000/oz in the not too distant future,” said James Moore of TheBullionDesk.

South Africa’s ongoing electricity concerns have already seen several precious-metals producers warn that their output would drop in 2008, as Eskom restricted mines operating in the country to a power supply that equated to 90% of their average requirements.

Gold miners have said the 10% reduction in energy would translate into a 20% to 25% fall in production, while platinum producers have indicated that their output would also be lower.

Anglo Platinum, the world’s largest platinum producer, on Monday reported a 6% reduction in platinum production from mining operations and a 12% reduction in refined platinum.

The company, which produced a total of 2,47-million ounces in 2007, said it expected refined platinum production to drop further to 2,4-million ounces for 2008.

Analysts say the metal’s potential scarcity has been made worse by power cuts.

South Africa accounts for almost 80% of world platinum supply and according to some estimates, a complete halt of production from South Africa would leave only enough platinum available to supply the market for a year. — I-Net Bridge