About Implats
Our operating
environment

Globally, the mining and minerals sector has faced a challenging few years.

Overview

The reduction in economic activity, rising geopolitical tensions and economic uncertainty in many regions has heightened pressure in particular on resource-dependent middle-income countries, many of which are seeking to extract greater value from resource companies in an effort to deliver on the social expectations of an increasingly frustrated electorate.

In the context of subdued global PGM prices, platinum miners are facing heightened stakeholder expectations on a range of fronts:

  • neighbouring communities are demanding economic opportunities and improved local service delivery;
  • governments push for rapid transformation, indigenisation and employment creation;
  • labour unions exert pressure for higher wages and jostle for power;
  • while a cautious investment community calls for enhanced cost efficiencies, capital management and dividends.

Regulatory uncertainty continues in South Africa and Zimbabwe and the region faces ongoing challenges in electricity supply, pressure on water availability, rising input costs, depreciating local currencies and liquidity at Zimplats.

 

Market performance

The platinum market experienced a fifth consecutive fundamental deficit in 2016. The deficit in 2016 was an approximate 700 000 ounces and a further deficit of around 450 000 ounces is expected in 2017 provided investment demand is maintained. The reduced deficit expected in 2017 is largely due to a modest decrease in industrial demand and declining platinum jewellery demand in China, moderated by primary supply constraints from South Africa.

automotive

Automotive

Calendar year 2016 was positive for the automotive industry, with global light-duty vehicle sales estimated to have reached 93 million units on the back of continued growth in the US, Western Europe and China, despite a slowdown in sales in Japan, Eastern Europe and Latin America.

Despite this strong growth and the adoption of stricter emission legislation globally, the continued preference for palladium over platinum in catalyst systems remains a concern and is not sustainable in our view. The automotive sector needs to align long-term use with the ratio in which the metals are mined to ensure sustainable supply, which will require automakers to switch back to platinum in the near future. Current platinum/palladium price differentials are at a six year high, providing strong financial impetus for such switching.

2016 4.6% global growth
93 million units
2017 2% Estimated sales growth
95 million units

jewellery

Investment

Outlook

We estimate that by the end of 2017, supply deficits experienced since 2012 will have consumed approximately four million ounces of platinum from above-ground stocks. Sustained demand in key market sectors, together with a more muted supply outlook from the South African producers should support improved market fundamentals into the future.

The market fundamentals for platinum, palladium and rhodium remain well supported by resilient global demand and constrained primary supply. Near-term, growing and unsustainable deficits in palladium will further underpin this market, and also support platinum and rhodium as consumers seek to optimise their metal mix into the future. Fundamental deficits for both platinum and palladium are expected to continue for the foreseeable future.

 

 

Outlook