The spot price of the metal, used in catalytic converters that help reduce emissions from cars, is set for the biggest monthly slide since May last year.
The six-member FTSE/JSE Africa Platinum Mining Index, whose members include the world’s three biggest producers, lost 1.2% to 36.34 by 1:27 pm in Johannesburg. A close at this level would be the lowest since October 2005. The measure has declined 14% in June.
The price of platinum has slumped 7.1% this month, the most since May 2012.
Labour unrest has disrupted mining in South Africa, creating a deficit in 2012 that was the first after nine years of surplus, researcher CPM Group said yesterday. Higher costs and lower prices are prompting Anglo American Platinum, the largest miner of the metal, to consider job cuts, which the South African government opposed. Increased Japanese demand and higher jewelry sales in China were offset by a slowdown in use by European automakers.
“Prices are at the mercy of poor demand for new vehicles as well as an inelastic supply of the metal,” Ryan Wibberley, the head of equity dealing for frontier and emerging markets at Investec Asset Management, said by phone from Cape Town.
“This imbalance might have been addressed by controlling output, but closure of mines is met with stiff resistance by both government and unions. With supply so hard to turn off in this country the best outlook for platinum lies in global economic recovery.”
Three workers have died in labor-union rivalry at South African platinum mines in May and June, adding to the 44 slain last year, including 34 killed by police on a single day in August.
Amplats has lost 13% this month, trading at R288.21. Impala Platinum Ltd., the second-biggest miner of the metal, slumped 1.4% to R88.56, extending the decline in June to 16% and heading for the lowest closing level in 7 1/2 years.
Lonmin Plc, the third-largest producer, has fallen 12% in June to R40.54 in Johannesburg trading while Royal Bafokeng Platinum has slipped 6.9%.
Labor tension on mines spurred President Jacob Zuma to appoint his deputy, Kgalema Motlanthe, to facilitate talks between the unions, companies and government departments on wage demands and possible shaft closures.
The global platinum outlook is “very negative,” Motlanthe told Johannesburg-based Talk Radio 702 today.
Disruptions to platinum output and the subsequent loss of export earnings for the country have put pressure on the rand, the world’s worst performer against the dollar this year among 16 major currencies tracked by Bloomberg. The rand has lost 17% since the police killings at Lonmin’s Marikana operations on August 16 and gained 1% to R9.9719 per dollar today.