Zimbabwe plans $200 million platinum refinery with Australia’s Kelltech (Reuters U.S. – May 17, 2017)


Zimbabwe is planning to build a $200 million platinum refinery next year in a joint venture with Australia’s Kelltech Ltd, the Mines Minister said on Wednesday.

The southern African nation holds the world’s largest deposits of platinum after South Africa and has been pushing mining firms operating in the country to build refineries to stop the export of raw platinum ore.

Walter Chidhakwa said the government’s mining arm, Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation, would own 30 percent of the refinery, privately-owned Kelltech would own 49 percent and the balance would be held by Golden Sparrow, a Zimbabwean firm.

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Platinum output grinds lower, but not fast enough to boost prices – by Jan Harvey and Zandi Shabalala (Reuters U.S. – May 17, 2017)


LONDON – South Africa’s platinum output is grinding lower as producers cut capital expenditure and shutter unprofitable areas, but it is not happening fast enough to tackle the industry’s bigger problem – rock-bottom prices for the metal itself.

Platinum prices in dollar terms are up just 4 percent this year in the face of a much bigger rally in other precious metals like palladium and gold, and are 32 percent below their 10-year average of $1,375 an ounce. In rand terms, they have fared even worse this year, pushing into the red as the rand strengthens versus the dollar, eroding what little support the miners had.

That is not making the sector particularly attractive for investors, with the Johannesburg platinum index underperforming the main stock index this year. That reflects the failure of the sector to respond more dramatically to the economic realities of falling prices while also battling a strengthening rand and regulatory uncertainty.

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Bus-Burning Protesters Are Latest Threat to Lonmin Comeback – by Kevin Crowley (Bloomberg News – May 12, 2017)


Just as Lonmin Plc Chief Executive Ben Magara puts out one fire, another one lights up. After Lonmin spent 70 percent of its cash in the last three months of 2016 following a labor dispute at the platinum miner’s biggest shaft, Magara, 49, donned a hard hat and mining overalls to meet workers every day in February to ease tensions. The efforts proved successful and he reported in March that production was back on track.

But the relief was shortlived. Violent community protests around the company’s Marikana operations forced it to temporarily close two smaller shafts last week, amid concerns for workers’ safety. A bus was later set on fire.

The protests are just the latest in a litany of social and labor disputes threatening to overshadow Magara’s turnaround efforts when Lonmin publishes half-year results on Monday. The South African platinum producer, which last reported an annual profit in 2013 and has seen its share price decline about 97 percent since then, is under growing pressure to prove it can make money.

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Sibanye Gold expands platinum holdings with US acquisition – by Matt Volz (Washington Post – May 4, 2017)


Associated Press – HELENA, Mont. — A South African gold mining company completed a $2.2 billion purchase of the only U.S. producer of platinum and palladium on Thursday, its third such acquisition in the past year as the company looks to expand its precious metals holdings.

Sibanye Gold Limited’s merger with Littleton, Colorado-based Stillwater Mining Co. on Thursday positions it as the world’s fourth-largest producer of precious metals that include platinum, palladium, rhodium and gold.

The value of platinum and palladium, which are used in vehicles’ catalytic converters and in jewelry, has plunged since a high in 2008. However, Sibanye officials said in documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission that they are optimistic about the future of the market, due to the expected growth in worldwide vehicle sales in coming years.

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Mining’s Biggest Loser Lonmin Is Burning Cash to Stay Alive – by Kevin Crowley (Bloomberg News – March 16, 2017)


For most of the mining industry, 2017 is turning out to be another good year. The big exception is Lonmin Plc.

Investors are losing confidence in the world’s third-largest platinum producer as it burns through cash to stay afloat, just 15 months after raising about $400 million from shareholders. Platinum prices aren’t far from a seven-year low and Lonmin has its own set of operational problems, including higher costs and lower output at its biggest mining shaft.

The stock is down more than 30 percent in 2017, the most in the FTSE All-Share Basic Materials Index of 28 commodity producers. The overall index has gained 11 percent this year.

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Toyota’s new technology a blow for platinum, palladium price – by Frik Els (Mining.com – February 22, 2017)


Toyota sold more than 10 million vehicles last year placing it in a virtual tie with Volkswagen as the world’s number one automaker. Stricter pollution regulations around the world and intense competition mean that top priority for traditional car companies is to cut costs and reduce emissions.

A new technology unveiled by Toyota on Wednesday is win for the Japanese company on both counts. Toyota announced the availability of a new, smaller catalyst that uses 20% less precious metal in approximately 20% less volume, while maintaining the same exhaust gas purification performance.

Toyota’s “world’s first integrally-molded Flow Adjustable Design Cell (FLAD)” is not the first time researchers have found innovative ways to reduce pricey platinum group metals in exhaust systems. But those technologies seldom make it all the way to the assembly line.

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Judge overturns halt in Ivanhoe grave relocations in South Africa – by Geoffrey York (Globe and Mail – February 20, 2017)


JOHANNESBURG — A South African judge has overturned a court injunction at a huge Canadian-owned platinum project, saying that any delay to the project would cause “significant prejudice” to the company and the local community.

The judge reversed an earlier court order, issued last November, that had halted the exhuming and relocating of dozens of ancestral graves at the site where Ivanhoe Mines Ltd. is developing a $1.6-billion platinum mine.

Hundreds of community members have been fighting against the mine for years. But the company says the project would provide thousands of direct and indirect jobs, along with education and training opportunities and a local ownership trust.

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China May Be a Hitch in African Miner’s Bid for U.S. Platinum – by David McLaughlin and Kevin Crowley (Bloomberg News – February 9, 2017)


What’s to keep South Africa’s biggest gold miner from buying a U.S. palladium producer? China, perhaps.

Sibanye Gold Ltd. is seeking regulatory approval for its $2.2 billion takeover of U.S.-based Stillwater Mining Co. Adding Stillwater’s two Montana mines — the only platinum-group operations in the U.S. and the biggest outside South Africa and Russia — would make Sibanye the world’s third-biggest palladium producer.

A Chinese consortium owns about 20 percent of Sibanye, making it the miner’s biggest single shareholder. That may spark concerns at the U.S. body that reviews whether purchases of businesses by foreign buyers could threaten national security. That regulator — the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. — has looked warily on some high-profile investments by Chinese investors.

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Enormous global demand on way for copper, platinum, zinc – Friedland – by Martin Creamer (MiningWeekly.com – February 8, 2017)


CAPE TOWN (miningweekly.com) – Enormous global demand is building up for copper, platinum and zinc, driven by new technology, mitigation of health risks in hospitals and agricultural augmentation, Ivanhoe Mines executive chairperson Robert Friedland said on Wednesday.

In a comprehensive address to the Investing in African Mining Indaba, Friedland used statistics from credible global institutions and well-recorded technological advances to highlight major looming copper shortages, strong upcoming platinum demand for hydrogen fuel cells and the practice of adding zinc to soils to grow food, which promotes good health and renders the metal nonrecyclable.

He flashed on to a big screen graphics of platinum-catalysed fuel cell vehicles needed to do the main job of stopping tiny particles in the air of major urban cities from entering lungs, getting into the blood stream and then going permanently beyond the blood brain barrier.

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Lonmin reports lower output as protesters demand compensation – by Zandi Shabalala (Reuters U.K. – January 26, 2017)


LONDON – Lonmin LML.L reported weaker than expected output on Thursday, causing analysts to raise doubts over 2017 production targets, and faced demands for compensation following the shooting of 34 miners at Marikana in South Africa’s platinum belt.

The company reiterated its sales guidance for 2017, but said larger shafts, known as generation 2, had disappointed and production from them was 5.2 percent lower in the final three months of last year than in the previous year.

The production shortfall added to steep losses for Lonmin’s volatile share price. It was down more than 16 percent by 1230 GMT. The wider sector was roughly flat. .FTNMX1770

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Davos boosts platinum fuel cell outlook with hydrogen council launch – by Martin Creamer (MiningWeekly.com – January 18, 2017)


JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric vehicles (EVs) offer the most natural solution for emission-free vehicles, discharging only water and requiring negligible change to current driving and refuelling habits, which is why 13 leading energy, transport and industry companies this week chose Davos to launch a global hydrogen initiative aimed at beating climate change.

Collectively representing revenues of €1.07-trillion and 1.72-million global employees, the new Hydrogen Council is going all out to position hydrogen as the answer to the world’s search for a carbon dioxide-free environment – which is a major boost for platinum-catalysed fuel cells.

At Davos, hydrogen was declared the clean fuel that can take the world into a no-carbon future, on the back of technology breakthroughs that include liquefied hydrogen now being safely transportable in much the same way as oil.

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Palladium rally shines on bullish industrial demand – by Neil Hume (Financial Times – Janurary 4, 2017)


Palladium has started 2017 with a bang. The metal has climbed more than 8 per cent in the first three trading days, taking it to $735 an ounce, thanks to strong US and Chinese manufacturing data as well as a buoyant set of sales figures from General Motors.

Unlike other precious metals, palladium is sensitive to changes in industrial demand because one of its most common uses is to reduce fumes from petrol-powered vehicles. This sets it apart from gold and silver, which are more heavily influenced by changes in monetary policy and broader risk appetite.

Palladium rose almost 20 per cent last year, outperforming gold and sister metal platinum, which gained just 1 per cent. Platinum is used in catalytic converters but in the smaller diesel market — and it has also rallied this week, helped by optimism about global economic growth.

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Lonmin promises housing plan after S. Africa’s Zuma threatens to revoke permit – by Tiisetso Motsoeneng (Daily Mail/Reuters – December 12, 2016)


JOHANNESBURG, Dec 12 (Reuters) – South Africa-focused platinum miner Lonmin is confident of submitting a plan to build workers’ housing that meets government requirements, it said on Monday, after President Jacob Zuma threatened to revoke its mining permit if it failed to do so.

Zuma’s warning on Sunday piles pressure on the company to spend more on workers’ housing at a time when it is cutting costs after being saved from the brink of collapse last year by a deeply discounted $400 million equity cash call.

To secure a mining licence, mining companies must submit a plan for housing and living conditions for their workers, many of whom come from former “homelands”, far from the mines, where blacks were forced to live in South Africa’s racist past.

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South Africa’s Sibanye Gold to Buy Stillwater Mining for $2.2 Billion in Latest Platinum Push – by Alexandra Wexler (Wall Street Journal – December 9, 2016)


JOHANNESBURG—Just over a year ago, South African miner Sibanye Gold Ltd. simply dug up its namesake yellow metal in its home market. Now the company is poised to become the world’s third-largest producer of palladium as well, with three sizable acquisitions over the last 15 months, crowned by Friday’s announcement that it plans to buy U.S. palladium and platinum miner Stillwater Mining Co. for $2.2 billion.

The moves illustrate the tectonic shifts recalibrating the global mining industry after the commodities bust. The Stillwater purchase is Sibanye’s first foray outside of Southern Africa and its latest bold move to diversify beyond gold mining.

The acquisition is also a vote of confidence in the platinum group of metals, which includes platinum and palladium, most commonly used in the auto industry to reduce engine emissions, in addition to a strategic diversification away from the often-difficult operating environment in South Africa.

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Anglo Faces Platinum Test in Possible South Africa Spinoff – by Janice Kew, Kevin Crowley, and Loni Prinsloo (Bloomberg News – December 5, 2016)


Anglo American Plc is facing a showdown with its biggest investor, South Africa’s state-owned Public Investment Corp., which wants the miner’s prized platinum assets included in any divestment of its local operations.

PIC, which owns about 14.5 percent of Anglo, is insisting platinum is included in the suite of coal and iron ore assets that the miner is considering spinning off, according to a person familiar with the fund manager’s thinking.

That presents a major hurdle to Anglo Chief Executive Officer Mark Cutifani, who says platinum is one of the company’s core commodities, along with copper and diamonds.

Anglo American Platinum Ltd. is the world’s biggest producer of the metal and 70 percent of global production comes from South Africa.

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