South Africa February platinum output plunges most in two years

Production fell 36%

South Africa’s platinum group metals output dropped the most in two years in February after a strike at the world’s three biggest producers crippled output.

Production of PGM metals fell 36 percent in the month, Juan-Pierre Terblanche, a spokesman for Pretoria-based Statistics South Africa, said by phone today. That was the biggest decrease since February 2012, when workers walked out at Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. for six weeks. The decline caused total mining output to drop 4.8 percent from a year ago.

A strike by more than 70,000 miners at Anglo American Platinum Ltd., Impala and Lonmin Plc entered its 12th week today, demanding wages double to 12,500 rand ($1,200) a month within four years. The companies have rejected the demands by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, the largest labor organization at the operations, and have offered as much as 9 percent.

The stoppage is taking its toll, “with inventory levels likely to be wearing thin,” BNP Paribas SA said in an e-mailed note. “We expect this to reflect in the mining production figures over the next three to four months at least and to begin showing up more prominently in the country’s export figures given that PGMs account for around 16 percent of total exports.”

The companies have lost 12.4 billion rand of revenue because of the strike while workers have forfeited 5.5 billion rand in wages, according to a website set up by the producers.

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