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The long-awaited and much-delayed closure of South African platinum mines is gaining momentum after years of underinvestment and cross-subsidisation of unprofitable operations as companies held out for improved prices.
SA is the world’s leading source of mined platinum, accounting for 80% of the world’s supply, but years of stagnant prices, unsettled labour relations and inexorable cost increases eroding profit margins have rendered more than half of the country’s platinum mines marginal or unprofitable for years.
Companies therefore have had little money beyond sustaining capital to invest in growth projects, sparking warnings from CEOs in recent years of South African platinum supply falling further from its 2006 peak of 5.6-million ounces. It has already fallen to about 4.3-million ounces a year.
In 2015, output was 4.6-million ounces.
Northam CEO Paul Dunne and former Impala Platinum CEO Terence Goodlace have both warned of steadily declining output, mainly because of underinves...
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