South Africa plans fuel cell plant to boost platinum demand – by Wendell Roelf (Reuters U.S. – February 9, 2016)

CAPE TOWN, Feb 9 South Africa plans to set up a fuel cell component plant by 2018, the latest initiative from the world’s top platinum producer to increase demand for the metal and support firms hit by plunging prices and labour strife.

The price of platinum has fallen about 30 percent year-on-year, forcing miners to sell assets and cut production and jobs. Around two-thirds of the industry, whose mines were damaged by a five-month strike in 2014, are making losses.

Vinay Somera, chief executive of Isondo Precious Metals, said his firm was preparing a feasibility study and had secured a licence from U.S-based Chemours Technology, to assemble components for the fuel cells using platinum.

Fuel cells generate electric power by combining hydrogen and oxygen over a catalyst such as platinum. The metal has so far mainly been used in catalysts to make diesel cars cleaner.

“We are looking to get manufacturing in the ground in the next one to two years,” Somera told Reuters on the sidelines of an African mining conference in Cape Town.

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