Bad day for platinum: Tsunami to trigger 8-fold jump in surplus, world no. 2 halts expansion

BusinessDay reports on Friday the global platinum surplus may jump eightfold to as much as five tons after Japan’s worst earthquake slashed car production, reducing the country’s demand for the metal used in cars’ emission systems to the lowest level in 28 years.

Earlier Mining Weekly reported that world number two platinum producer Impala Platinum has shelved plans to increase production at its underperforming 73%-owned Marula mine leading to lay-offs at the company’s largest development project in South Africa.

Business Day reports:

“The surge in supply may curb an advance in platinum prices, which have climbed 18% in the past year. Palladium has soared 71%. Both metals are used for pollution- control devices in cars, and car makers such as Toyota and Honda reduced production after the earthquake and tsunami devastated northern Japan on March 11. Japan represents 15% of world platinum demand, according to materials technology firm Johnson Matthey.”

Mining Weekly reports:

“South Africa’s second-biggest platinum miner Impala Platinum (Implats) said on Friday that the underperforming Marula mine would remain a 70 000-oz/y producer for the next two years – a move that would result in job losses.

The company initially planned to increase production at the mine to 95 000 oz/y by 2013, but has now started a strategic review of the Marula subsidiary, in which it holds 73%.”