Johannesburg - Demand for a proposed platinum coin named after Nelson Mandela could be as high as the equivalent of one million ounces of the metal a year, about 8 percent of total use, Impala Platinum said.

Platinum producers in South Africa, the country that accounts for more than 70 percent of the precious metal mined, are in talks with the government to introduce a Mandela Platinum coin as legal tender, Johan Theron, a spokesman for Johannesburg-based Impala, said today by phone.

“We’re very serious about this,” Theron said.

“It’s a unique opportunity for South Africa to create something that will have the same impact as Kruger Rands” made of gold.

Platinum companies are seeking more uses for the precious metal as falling production and increased recycling of automotive catalysts containing the metal erode the market share of primary suppliers.

South Africa’s share of the total platinum supply likely declined to 53 percent last year from an estimated 62 percent in 2009, according to Johnson Matthey, a maker of auto-catalysts.

Supplies of recycled metal grew by 48 percent to 2.1 million ounces over the same period.

Platinum prices have gained four percent this year, after declining 11 percent in 2013.

The metal traded at $1,428.25 an ounce as of 2:52 p.m. in Johannesburg.

Mandela died at the age of 95 on December 5.

He became South Africa’s first black president in 1994 and spent 27 years in jail for fighting the apartheid system of white rule. - Bloomberg News