File image: Reuters

Shares in Anglo American Platinum fell in opening trade on Thursday after the world's top producer of the precious metal said its interim earnings would drop as much as 78 percent due to lower sales and prices.

At 09:10 SA time the shares of the Anglo American unit were over 2 percent lower at 420.00 rand after earlier sliding more than 5 percent to a 3-year low of 407.00 rand.

South Africa's platinum sector is battling the impact of weak global demand, which is depressing the precious metal's price, as well as soaring costs and a government safety drive that has cut output due to the suspension of operations for safety violations.

Anglo American is undertaking an operational review of Amplats, which it is expected to conclude later this year.

Analysts expect the review to recommend the closure of some higher-cost deep shafts, as well as some sales or exits from joint ventures with rivals.

South Africa is home to 80 percent of known world platinum reserves. - Reuters