Johannesburg - South African plans to mint a Nelson Mandela coin are at the earliest stage and will need to struggle through state bureaucracy, Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. said.

“We’re right at the beginning of the program,” said Derek Engelbrecht, marketing executive at Johannesburg-based Impala.

“I fear there’s quite a lot of government bureaucracy we’ll have to get through before we see any progress on this.”

Platinum producers in the nation that contributes more than 70 percent of the mined metal are talking with the government to try to introduce the coin as legal tender.

Companies are seeking more uses for platinum as falling output and increased recycling of auto catalysts containing the metal erode their markets.

Producers have talked with South African Mint Co., maker of gold Krugerrands and other legal tender, Engelbrecht said.

South Africa’s share of platinum supply probably fell to 53 percent in 2013 from an estimated 62 percent in 2009, according to autocatalyst maker Johnson Matthey Plc. Supplies of recycled metal grew 48 percent to 2.1 million ounces in the same period.

Output at Impala, Anglo American Platinum Ltd. and Lonmin Plc’s largest mines has been halted since January 23 as the main platinum union led more than 70,000 workers on a labor strike. - Bloomberg News