The Minerals Council of South Africa has warned that 90 000 jobs in South Africa’s platinum industry are at risk due to a combination of strikes, weak demand, declining productivity, growth in recycling and the rising cost of electricity.
The platinum dollar price has been steadily declining since
Currently 65% of platinum group metals operations in South Africa are marginal or loss-making at prevailing prices, said Roger Baxter, the chief executive of the Minerals Council, in an industry presentation.
A total of 89 964 jobs are at risk at these marginal operations.
Baxter said “bold action” was needed by both the state and mining companies to prevent a further erosion of the industry.
The platinum industry is the largest mining employer in SA, with 168 000 people directly employed. In 2018 PGM sales amounted to R105bn (US$7.5bn).
Baxter said a national platinum strategy was needed for South Africa, saying the industry couldn’t just “bumble along”.
The plan that Baxter outlined includes a national strategy to drive investment demand for platinum; market development in jewellery, investment and fuel cells; and the adoption of platinum as a reserve asset.
The industry has long been arguing that platinum should be marketed as a reserve asset, similar to gold.