A saleswoman displays platinum rings at a jewellery store in New Delhi, India. File picture: Parivartan Sharma

Johannesburg - Impala Platinum said it may buy metal on the open market to meet customer deliveries as a strike at the world’s largest producers of the metal is in its third month.

“We definitely can’t continue to supply all our clients as we normally would’ve done,” Johan Theron, a spokesman for Johannesburg-based Impala, the second-biggest producer, said today by phone.

The company will meet supply contracts with all South African clients and will prioritise “key” international clients at least until the end of the month, Theron said.

The company met all deliveries in March, he said.

Impala’s Rustenburg Lease mines, which accounted for 58 percent of its mined output for the six months ended December 31, as well as the biggest operations of Anglo American Platinum and Lonmin have been halted since January 23 as the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union led more than 70,000 workers on a strike in support of higher wages.

Amplats, the largest producer, still has about 215,000 ounces of platinum stockpiles, half the amount it had when the strike started, chief executive Chris Griffith said March 28.

The company may also buy metal on the market to continue customer supplies, Griffith said.

Platinum for immediate delivery rose 0.7 percent to $1,427.13 an ounce by 11:01 a.m. in Johannesburg.

South Africa accounts for more than two-thirds of the world’s mined metal, used for jewellry and catalytic converters in vehicles to reduce harmful emissions.

The AMCU demands basic wages be more than doubled within three years to 12,500 rand a month, compared with current minimum pay of 5,000 rand to 6,000 rand.

Employers have offered pay increases of as much as 9 percent, compared with South Africa’s inflation rate of 5.9 percent in February.

Producers and the AMCU have not made new concessions during separate talks with the state’s Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration during the past week, Theron said. - Bloomberg News