WPIC tips ongoing platinum deficit

Demand outstrips supply

Staff reporter
 The World Platinum Investment Council is tipping a bigger platinum deficit this year

The World Platinum Investment Council is tipping a bigger platinum deficit this year

The council's previous Platinum Quarterly had revised its 2020 forecast to a deficit of 336,000oz, compared with the prior estimate of a 247,000oz surplus.

Thanks to the "stellar rebound" in automotive demand, sustained investment demand and supply constraints, 2021 would see the third consecutive annual platinum deficit of 224,000oz, the council said in its latest forecast, released this week.

It said large sections of the market, both supply and demand, had returned to near pre-COVID-19 operational levels as global economic conditions improved.

Supply was down 5% in the September quarter from with a year earlier, compared with the 36% fall year-on-year in the June quarter.

"Developments in quarter three, including the V-shaped recoveries in automotive markets, pandemic-related risk driving precious metal investment demand and severely reduced supply, have all contributed to the expected 1.2Moz deficit in 2020 and 224,000oz deficit in 2021," CEO Paul Wilson said.

Chinese jewellery demand was also forecast to rise in 2021 for the first time in seven years.

Platinum demand had fallen off a cliff due to the "dieselgate scandal" about five years ago, which had prompted a shift towards petrol-powered cars and their palladium-coated exhaust systems, however signs of a rebalance were emerging.

Wilson said platinum played a key role in the production of green hydrogen and fuel cells for electric vehicles.

"When these investors take a closer look, they see that platinum's deep discount to gold and palladium and the cost effectiveness and low CO2 of the mild-hybrid diesel powertrain greatly enhance the likelihood of investment demand growth," he said.

He acknowledged the response of the platinum price to address its discount to gold and palladium had been "slower than most expected this year", which he put down to the hiatus in the platinum futures market, initially caused by pandemic-related transport restrictions, as contributing to the "numbed response".

The forecasts were included in the council's 25th edition of its platinum quarterly, which it said represented a milestone in the organisation's history.

The council was created in 2014 by leading platinum producers in South Africa, to stimulate demand and provide market intelligence.

The platinum spot price has gained about 9% over the past month to US$930 an ounce on the spot market but is yet to breach the $1,000 mark reached earlier this year.

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