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Platinum shortfall to increase this year: WPIC

The platinum market is forecast to remain in deficit for the third year in a row, with the shortfall expected to deepen to 158,000 ounces according to the World Platinum Investment Council.
Platinum shortfall to increase this year: WPIC Platinum shortfall to increase this year: WPIC Platinum shortfall to increase this year: WPIC Platinum shortfall to increase this year: WPIC Platinum shortfall to increase this year: WPIC

The chart outlining demand end-use shares in 2020 and forecast for 2021, from the World Platinum Investment Council’s latest Platinum Quarterly

Ngaire McDiarmid

Reporter

This is more than double its previous projected shortfall of 60,000oz for 2021, it said in its quarterly report released this week. 

CEO Paul Wilson said as the global economy continued to recover, underpinned by widespread stimulus measures, the March quarter saw platinum demand increase 26% or 405,000oz year-on-year to more than 1.9 million ounces.

The industry body said 2021 total platinum supply was now forecast to rise 16% year-on-year to 7.88Moz, below the pre-pandemic 2019 level of 8.2Moz, while total platinum demand was expected to rise 5% year-on-year to 8.04Moz.

"The third consecutive annual market deficit of -158,000oz in 2021 is mainly due to the strong automotive and industrial demand countering the lower forecast investment demand," Wilson said.

He also moved to allay fears of a supply glut, with some investors fearing Anglo American Platinum's circa 500,000oz accumulated during its ACP converter plant outages in 2020 could be processed quickly through the concentrator this year.

"This is not in fact the case, and Anglo American Platinum has confirmed in public statements in February and April that the processing of the platinum in material built up ahead of the ACP in 2020 will be processed over the course of both 2021 and 2022," he said.

He also referred to the forecast 69,000oz reduction in Nornickel's production due to two significant disruptions in February - flooding at its Oktyabrsky and Taimyrsky mines and a building collapse at the Norilsk Concentrator temporarily closing the plant.

The WPIC said platinum prices averaged US$1,162/oz during the first quarter, up 29% year-on-year and 23% quarter-on-quarter, representing the highest quarterly average price since Q1 2015.

"However, despite significantly increased investor interest and higher price levels, platinum remains significantly undervalued compared to precious peer gold and palladium - platinum's one to one substitute metal in gasoline catalysts - with the platinum price not yet fully reflecting platinum's strong demand growth potential and constrained supply," Wilson said.

The platinum price has risen from about $800/oz 12 months ago to a multi-year high approaching $1,300/oz in February. It was  worth $1,238/oz on the spot market today.