South African miners' strikes are boosting platinum ETF inflows

Suzie Neuwirth
(Source: Getty)

The labour tensions between the unions and South Africa’s three largest platinum miners have raged on for months now with no resolution in sight.

A number of employees have been killed trying to return to work, amid reports of threatening behaviour from the militant Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), which represents the majority of workers at the mines.

But there has been little noticeable impact on platinum prices until recently, despite the three miners producing over half of the world’s platinum before the strike action drastically reduced output.

The precious metal rose to a nine-month high late last week and it looks like exchange traded funds are finally seeing the effects too.

ETF Securities said today that its platinum exchange traded products are seeing the largest inflows in six weeks, rising to $6.1m (£3.63m), after reporting $15m of outflows last month.

“Even after the pay dispute is resolved there will be a lag before production can be ramped up to full capacity, prolonging the delay in getting supply to the market,” said the investment firm. “It is clear that secondary supply is unable to catch up with the primary deficit, keeping the market very tight.”

Johnson Matthey recently forecast a platinum deficit of 1.218m ounces this year, widening from 940,000 ounces last year.

Lonmin, Amplats and Implats have collectively lost 18.5bn rand (£1.1bn) in revenue during the strike.