Platinum market heading for biggest surplus in years, says WPIC

Platinum is used by automakers, who embed it in vehicle exhausts to neutralise harmful emissions. Stock image.

The World Platinum Investment Council (WPIC) said on Wednesday the global platinum market would see a much larger surplus this year than it previously forecast and another big oversupply in 2022.

Platinum is used by automakers to neutralise harmful engine emissions and by jewellers, industries such as glassmakers and for investment. Surpluses imply lower prices and deficits higher prices.

The WPIC, which was set up by platinum mining companies and uses data from consultants Metals Focus and SFA (Oxford), said the roughly 8 million tonne a year platinum market would be oversupplied by 769,000 ounces this year — the most since its data begins in 2013 — and 637,000 ounces in 2022.

In September, it predicted a surplus of 190,000 ounces in 2021.

In May, it forecast a deficit. In the third quarter of this year alone, the platinum market was oversupplied by 592,000 ounces, the biggest quarterly surplus since at least 2013.

Supply from South Africa has increased as inventory that built up during a smelter outage is processed faster than expected, the WPIC said.

Meanwhile, demand from automakers fell as a chip shortage forced them to cut production and stockpiles held in exchange vaults in New York and for investors in exchange traded funds (ETFs) shrank.

The WPIC predicted platinum supply would remain high next year, but its head of research Trevor Raymond said production of the metal should fall in 2022 or 2023 after the built-up inventories in South Africa are spent.

The WPIC said next year it expected demand from automakers and investors in platinum bars and coins to rise but for industry, ETFs and jewellers to want less platinum.

Platinum prices rose to a 6-1/2 year high of $1,336.50 an ounce in February but have since sagged to around $1,000.

(By Peter Hobson; Editing by David Evans)

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