Government says despite the impact of COVID-19 restrictions, the platinum industry has remained resilient and recovered.
Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe says the sector has recovered quite well since 2021 after lockdown restrictions were eased.
Although the Platinum sector fell by 18% in 2020, it saw a 276% increase in production and 476% increase in annual sales last year, compared to April 2019.
Mantashe says the recovery in the sector was due to restored demand in the automotive, industrial, jewellery, and increase in commodity prices that performed above pre-COVID-19 levels
He says, “We are one sector that said at level five coal must produce full, open cast at level four, at level three we said the whole mining must produce and many people put that blame on us and said we are going to kill mine workers. The we undertook a number of unannounced visits to see if they were tested to see if they were treated with place to isolate them and we did well. That is why in 2021, we recovered.”
Mantashe says the sector should take advantage of the current market conditions given the economic sanctions in Russia.
The PGM sector contributes heavily to the South African economy, contributing over 41% and 37% to total mineral revenue and employment
He says, “Given the economic sanctions by Russia, close attention needs to be paid to the global palladium supply. Norilsk-Talnakh contains 46% of palladium containing deposits, whereas Bushveld Igneous Complex contains 39% and the remainder is balanced by Great Dyke Zim deposits, among others. Therefore, supply disruption in these regions affects the price of the metal.”
Government also wants the sector to play a much larger role in the production of hydrogen. South Africa holds nearly 80% of the world’s platinum reserves.
It is the leading global supplier of primary mined PGMs, accounting for approximately 80 and 40% of the world’s platinum and palladium supplies, respectively.
Mantashe says, “In this context, the Platinum Group Metals (PGMs) commodities are poised to make a significant contribution to domestic and global economies. They provide our country with a comparative advantage, thereby enabling South Africa to benefit in the trade of these commodities.”
For mineral beneficiation to thrive, he says the PGM industry must champion the implementation of the Beneficiation Strategy.
Mantashe says it is ready to support measures that will boost international investment and the country’s economic reconstruction and recovery programme.
He also defended the mining charter. “Platinum sector must do transformation its self it must not be forced by the government. The charter is there, the only area out of question is the once empowered, always empowered. Because transformation is to give a section of society that was not having an opportunity in the past to participate in the economy. When I came in the industry I could not get a blasting certificate with matric because I was not a scheduled person, we must change that.”