SA’s platinum sector is fast approaching the point where companies have little choice but to close or consolidate mines to cope with prices mired at levels of a decade ago despite costs rising annually, leaving more than half the industry unprofitable, senior industry figures say. The estimates of the number of mines in trouble vary from 50% to 60%, but either way the industry, which supplies 80% of the world’s primary platinum, or mined production, is in serious trouble. "It’s an industry in distress, deep distress," says Northam Platinum CEO Paul Dunne, adding options for platinum mining companies after years of low and stagnant prices had effectively narrowed to either close or consolidate."The ability to transact will become a very important characteristic of a successful company … we are at a time where companies will need to deal to survive," Dunne says. "We are in the throes of a correction that is not immediately visible to the market, which is looking for step changes, beca...

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