EV advances add to PGM uncertainty

An Impala Platinum Mine Picture: Oupa Mokoena / Independent Newspapers.

An Impala Platinum Mine Picture: Oupa Mokoena / Independent Newspapers.

Published Feb 5, 2024


South Africa's Minerals Council said on Monday that the restructuring of the country's platinum group metals (PGM) industry could result in between 4,000 and 7,000 job cuts.

South African PGM miners are increasingly discussing the need to restructure unprofitable production following a decline in prices and high input costs, the council said at the start of the Investing in African Mining Indaba conference in Cape Town.

The Minerals Council said the sector, largely dependent on automakers who use the metals to curb emissions in petroleum-powered engines, faces "a great deal of uncertainty" as the world pivots towards clean energy in transportation.

Top global PGM producer South Africa has some of the world's oldest and deepest platinum mines, which are expensive to operate, especially when metal prices are low.

The prices of palladium and platinum fell by 40% and 15% last year, respectively, mainly due to weak demand in China.

Electricity and labour costs account for most of PGM miners' total costs, the Minerals Council said in a statement.

"In light of this, various prominent PGM miners are restructuring their operations potentially impacting between 4,000 to 7,000 jobs," it added.

Sibanye Stillwater, South Africa's biggest mining sector employer, has said its planned restructuring, which could see it close four loss-making PGM shafts, could potentially result in the loss of 4,095 jobs.

Impala Platinum has also said it was offering voluntary job cuts to workers at its South African operations.

Anglo American Platinum, the world's biggest PGM producer by value, has said it is reviewing its cost structure to remain profitable.