JOHANNESBURG/LONDON, March 30 (Reuters) – The world’s largest platinum producers Anglo American Platinum, Sibanye Stillwater and Impala Platinum have declared force majeure on contracts after a three-week national lockdown has forced operations to close.
South Africa, which accounts for around 70% of mined platinum, called the shutdown last week to to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus outbreak. The measure triggered a downgrade by ratings agency Moody’s on Friday and will hit the country’s mining industry, which accounts for about 7% of GDP.
Miners have put many of their operations in care and maintenance and have reduced metal processing, while the coronavirus has also slowed demand from global car companies.
South Africa’s main ports have been shut, preventing the flow of commodities such as iron ore, coal and manganese.
The clause of force majeure, loosely translated as superior force, allows certain terms of an otherwise legally binding agreement to be ignored because of unavoidable circumstances.