Amplats Zim unit raises output as platinum price projected to rise

Harare - Zimbabwean mine Unki, owned by Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) [JSE:AMS], on Thursday announced a 7% increase in 2016 fourth-quarter production to 19 900 ounces, driven by increased tonnes milled and higher grade.

Third-quarter production was at 18 600 oz, up from 18 200 in the comparative quarter in 2015.

A quarterly update released by parent company Amplats showed that tonnes milled at Unki were 9% higher than what was milled the previous quarter.

The grade at 3.53g/t was also up 6% from the previous quarter. 

Seen against the comparative quarter in 2015, tonnes milled were up 2% while the grade was up 3%.

This comes as the World Bank said platinum prices dropped 13% in the fourth quarter on falling investment demand, in its latest Commodity Markets Outlook Report released this week. 

“But physical demand was also weak, especially in China where shifting consumer tastes have reduced demand for jewellery toward other products.

“Platinum demand has also been impacted by the Volkswagen diesel emission scandal, as platinum is mostly used in diesel catalysts,” said the World Bank.

It added that additional demand headwinds emanate from policy plans to phase out diesel vehicles in major European cities, substitution to alternate catalyst technologies, and a switch to non-combustion engines. 

“The market remains adequately supplied, but wage negotiations in South Africa, which supplies about 70% of the world’s platinum, poses a risk to production,” it added.

The bank however said in 2017 platinum prices are projected to rise marginally on likely supply tightness.

The precious metal is expected to trade at $1 000 in 2017 and $1 032 in 2018, up from 2016 closing prices of about $987.

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