SA’s platinum industry, for decades a colossus globally with its dominant supply position, is undergoing a seismic shift as conventional underground mines struggle to compete with mechanised mines and overseas supply and recycling, which has grown in importance as a source of the metal used in the automotive sector and as jewellery, take their toll. At the inaugural Jo’burg Indaba platinum conference, analysts, consultants and CEOs made it clear just how deep the structural change would be for the industry, which once supplied 80% of the world’s platinum. This has fallen to just more than 50%, as 1.5-million ounces of production capacity was removed from the market over the past decade and 500,000oz more in projects stalled.The difficulties in the platinum sector stem from steep price increases in labour and electricity, despite declining efficiencies on mines and the platinum price remaining largely moribund in dollar and rand terms, leaving more than half the industry unprofitable...

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