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Platinum production from Zimbabwe to drop 10%

Platinum production from Zimbabwe is estimated to drop 10 percent this year to 440 000 ounces as output normalises at the country's largest operation, according to the World Platinum Council (WPC).

In its first quarter report for 2017, the WPC said North American supply increased three percent to 405 koz in response to greater yield from the primary platinum group metals mines but this will be partly offset by depletion in the Sudbury region.

Following a period of restructuring in 2016, WPC said output from Russia may grow three percent this year to 735 koz. "Production from Zimbabwe is estimated to drop by 10 percent to 440 koz as output normalises at the largest operation.

"There are unlikely to be significant sales from stock in 2017 as producers have now restored their stocks to their planned steady state levels, which are at least 50 koz lower than in 2015 and 2016," said the World platinum body.

WPC said a net reduction of 10 koz is forecast for the year while total mining supply is estimated at 5,970 koz for 2017, which is a reduction of 1,5 percent compared to 2016.

Total platinum supply was 1,750 koz in the first quarter, a decline of four percent year-on-year, as a drop in primary supply (-90 koz) more than offset an increase in secondary supply (+25 koz). Global demand was one percent lower compared to first quarter of 2016 at 2,050 koz as weaker investment demand (-75 koz) outweighed gains in the automotive (+20 koz), jewellery (+20 koz) and industrial sectors (+10 koz).

With global supply contracting more than demand year-on-year, the market balance expanded to a deficit of 300 koz in first quarter of 2017. Refined production recovered to 1,390 koz in Q1'17 (+10 percent year-on-year) with processing capacity in full working order following outages in the first, third and fourth quarters of 2016. South African supply totalled 960 koz in the first quarter, an increase of 19 percent year-on-year, while supply from Zimbabwe decreased 19 percent year-on-year, reflecting a return to typical mine production levels.

Total mining supply is estimated at 1,330 koz in the first quarter following a rise in producer inventory, a fall of six percent compared to first quarter 2016 and a reduction of six percent on fourth quarter 2016.

Total platinum supply is projected to decline two percent year-on-year to 7,730 koz in 2017 as both primary and secondary supply are expected to decrease.

Refined production is forecast to fall one percent to 5,960 koz as slight increases in Russia (+20 koz) and North America (+10 koz) are outweighed by reductions in South Africa (-45 koz) and Zimbabwe (-50 koz).

Secondary supply is estimated to six percent to 1,760 koz. Jewellery recycling is projected to decline by 20 percent (-125 koz) to 500 koz this year as it returns to a more normal level in China after excess retail stock was returned to manufacturers last year, while autocatalysts recycling is expected to increase two percent (+20 koz) to 1,255 koz on improving volumes.

Global demand is forecast to drop six percent year-on-year to 7,795 koz, primarily owing to declines in industrial and investment demand. Global refined supply is forecast to fall one percent to 5,960 koz in 2017. South African output is estimated to decrease by one percent to 4,200 koz.

"This dip is attributable to restructuring (lower production targets) at some Western Limb operations, and lower yield from some Eastern Limb mines due to community disruption and depletion of reserves. Ramp-up of new shafts is projected to contribute around 120 koz this year," said WPC.

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