Platinum production in South Africa peaked in 2006 at more than five million ounces. This year, output will fall to around four million ounces. This is a decline of over 20%. Given that the country is well endowed with platinum resources and is responsible for over 80% of the world's primary production, it would not be unreasonable to have expected a different outcome. How and why has this happened? The overriding reason is that resources have not been converted to immediately accessible reserves through the application of capital. Every mine is a depleting asset from day one, and it is important that replacement infrastructure is built, commissioned and ramped up in a timeous way so that the requisite output is maintained. The replacement projects have not materialised to any significant degree and, as such, output from South Africa is falling and will inevitably continue to do so in the current metal-price environment. Mining projects by nature tend to be capital intensive and, pe...

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