Lonmin slides into the red

Miner Lonmin slipped into the red due to weak prices and lower output, but said a revival in car and jewellery demand would pave the way for a recovery to begin next year.<br /><br />Lonmin, the world&rsquo;s third biggest platinum producer, made a pre-tax loss of $272m (&pound;162m) in the year to 30 September, against a $779m profit a year ago. The group, listed in London and Johannesburg, said 2009 had been tough due to lower prices and currency volatility, causing revenues to drop by more than half to $1.06bn.<br /><br />Lonmin, whose mines are located in South Africa, said it would not pay a final dividend due to uncertainty in 2010. It said while 2010 would stay tough, platinum demand was likely to improve next year due to a steady recovery in the car and industrial markets. This cheered investors, and its shares closed up 9.3 per cent at 1,740p.<br /><br />Continuing demand in the Asian jewellery market was also expected to underpin platinum prices. &ldquo;We&rsquo;ll see a gradual recovery during 2010, with supply shortages expected from 2011 onwards,&rdquo; chief executive Ian Farmer said. <br /><br />The price of platinum -- used in jewellery and in catalysts to clean pollution from vehicle exhausts -- has recovered by about 50 per cent to $1,400 per ounce this year, but is still well below the peak of $2,290 touched in 2008.