The Mining of Platinum
The South African platinum mining sector is one of the largest components of the country’s mining industry in terms of both employment and export earnings. It exported 136t of platinum worth US$4.4bn during 2015 and is a significant contributor to the South African economy. Although a number of junior miners are involved in the sector, it is dominated by world’s three largest platinum miners, Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin, which together produced 94.5% of total domestic refined platinum production.
As a result of the low platinum price and increasing costs, platinum producers have experienced low margins over the last few years and many companies have been forced to shelve their expansion plans and exploration projects. Companies have announced the closure of unprofitable shafts and a number of other shafts have been put on care and maintenance. The issuing of section 54 stoppage notices in the event of safety breaches has also resulted in the closure of certain mines, costing South African companies R834m during the first half of 2016. The Draft Reviewed Mining Charter, unexpectedly published by the Minister of Mineral Resources on 15 April 2016, has been a further blow to mining companies as none of the submissions, objections or recommendations submitted by the Chamber of Mines have been considered or included.
The Mining of Platinum describes current conditions in the local sector and recent developments, including regulatory changes and other factors influencing the success of the industry. The report includes profiles on 19 companies including Platinum Group Metals, which recently completed a pre-feasibility study of its US$1bn Waterberg mine that is expected to have a production rate of 23.1t of platinum, palladium, rhodium and gold (4E) per annum over 18 years. Also profiled is Eastern Platinum Ltd which, in June 2016, announced the sale of its Crocodile River mine to Chinese company, Hebei Zhongheng Tianda Platinum.