More platinum deficits to come after record undersupply in 2020 – WPIC

ARM Platinum Two Rivers mine (Credit: ARM)

The global platinum market will be roughly balanced this year after a record undersupply of almost a million ounces in 2020, but more deficits loom as demand picks up, the World Platinum Investment Council (WPIC) said on Wednesday.

Platinum is used by auto makers who embed it in vehicle exhausts to neutralise emissions, as well as by other industry, jewellers and for investment.

Years of oversupply and a weak demand outlook dragged it from $2,290 an ounce in 2008 to $558 last year, but prices surged to 7-year highs above $1,300 this year as investors reassessed its prospects.

By disrupting mining activity, the coronavirus pandemic affected platinum supply much more than demand, pushing the roughly 8-million ounce market into a deficit of 932,000 ounces last year, the second consecutive undersupply and the biggest on record, the WPIC said.

That deficit will shrink to just 60,000 ounces this year as supply bounces back, it predicted in its latest quarterly report. The outlook is bullish, said Trevor Raymond, the WPIC’s director of research.

“Over the next three years you’ve got a situation where supply growth is unlikely but demand is growing,” he said, adding that platinum prices would likely move towards those of sister metal palladium, currently around $2,350 an ounce.

Tightening emissions regulations, rebounding vehicle sales and substitution of platinum for palladium by auto makers to save money will raise platinum consumption by the auto industry by 25% this year, the WPIC said.

Raymond said he expected car makers to be using 1 million ounces a year more platinum and less palladium by 2025. Also encouraging investment in platinum is the potential for its widespread use in hydrogen power later in the decade, he said.

(By Peter Hobson; Editing by Jan Harvey)


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