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South Africa's Platinum Group Miners Are In Jeopardy

Platinum—it is a metal that energy transitions around the globe depend on. But two South African platinum producers just reported that their profits crashed over H2 2023—and over 2023—as prices for the critical metal continues to fall.

South African platinum producer Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd said its profits—tied to the falling price of energy transition metals such as platinum—fell by more than 85% in the second half of last year thanks to the falling prices of platinum, palladium, rhodium. The company also wrote down the value of assets in South Africa and Canada, which contributed to the sharp drop in profits.

Anglo American Platinum Ltd (Amplats) said its 2023 profits fell by 79%, to the lowest level in 30 years, Amplats majority owner Anglo American Plc said in December.

The profit declarations have caused shares in four of South Africa's largest platinum group metals mines all fell today, with Amplats dropping 6.8%. South Africa is responsible for 70% of the world's platinum output.

Platinum-based proton exchange membrane technologies are a critical part of the energy transition, but automakers' use of the platinum group metals has been called into question as some of the world's largest automakers pull back on their electric vehicle plans.

South Africa's platinum group metals industry is expected to cut thousands of jobs, its Minerals Council said earlier this week, as costs rise and platinum prices fall amid this uncertainty and actual weak demand out of China.

Sibanye Stillwater, South Africa's largest mining sector employer, said that it could close four loss-making platinum group metal shafts, which would trigger job losses that exceed 4,000.

 "What matters is the industry's and government's ability to navigate these challenges to ensure that the industry does survive and prosper - yes with smaller direct workforces, and this is a reality that the industry is contending with right now," Anglo American's CEO Duncan Wanblad said.

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By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com

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