Platinum Prices Slide despite Stalled Strike Deal

PlatinumJohannesburg: Despite a broad rally in metals prices, PGM futures trading in New York pulled back on Friday despite a fresh impasse in strike negotiations in South Africa.

Palladium futures trading on Nymex gave up more than 2% or $17 an ounce on Friday day to trade at $822.50 an ounce, while platinum contracts fell 1.1% or $16 an ounce to change hands for $1,458.20, below the level it was trading at when the strike began.

More than 70,000 workers at the world’s three largest platinum and palladium producers, Anglo American Platinum (LON:AAL), Impala Platinumm (OTCMKTS:IMPUY) and Lonmin (LON:LMI), have been on strike since January 23 and a week ago an “in-principle” wage deal was reached.

Now Johannesburg paper Business Day reports the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) have returned with fresh demands including a R3,000 ($280) return-to-work payment and a moratorium on retrenchments.

The demands add 25% to 30% to last week’s reported agreement which called for a basic pay increase by R1,000 month ($94) excluding benefits for the lowest wage workers.

The three mines which together contribute 40% of global supply, have lost combined revenue of R23.4 billion ($2.1 billion) while striking workers’s forfeited wages are approaching $1 billion.

The 21-week strike translates into roughly 10,000 ounces of platinum production and 5,000 ounces of palladium lost each day.

When strikers do return to work it would take up to three months to bring the mines back to full production.

The platinum price remains higher year to date, gaining more than 4%, while June palladium reached levels last seen early 2011 during the strike and is up some 14% this year.

The strike has seen mining output in the African nation plummet leading to a contraction in the overall economy during the first quarter.

South Africa and Russia combined account for close to 80% of global supply of palladium and 70% of platinum output which are mainly used to clean emissions in automobiles.