South Africa’s platinum-sector woes show how quickly fortunes can change in mining
Plunging prices for platinum and other critical metals could derail mining investment needed to develop new supplies, posing a significant threat to decarbonization targets set by countries around the world.
Platinum is used to make the electrolyzers that produce hydrogen and the sharp down cycle in South Africa’s platinum mining sector demonstrates how low prices and a lack of investment could slow the energy transition.
Last week, Johannesburg-headquartered Impala Platinum started offering voluntary redundancy to staff in a bid to drive down costs. Sibanye-Stillwater, another South-Africa based miner, said in October that it would shut four mine shafts, putting more than 4,000 jobs at risk.
The supply-side moves in South Africa have been driven by a sharp fall in revenue from platinum group metals, also known as PGMs. Platinum futures have fallen nearly 20% this year after hitting decade highs just 18 months ago.