The impact of the global pandemic on the platinum market has been “less than expected”, according to the World Platinum Investment Council (WPIC).
In its Platinum Quarterly publication for the first quarter of 2020, the group claimed the net effect of the pandemic was “less than feared”, despite having a “major negative effect” on price, demand and supply in the platinum market.
Both the first quarter results and the outlook for 2020 were now “better than expected”, the WPIC said, though the platinum price suffered falls of between 10% and 35% in March.
Platinum demand in China fell early on in the quarter amid the escalating pandemic, while both a smelting process failure in South Africa and mine closures to stop the spread of the virus “significantly reduced” quarterly platinum supply.
Total demand in the quarter declined by 5% (-94 koz) to 1,649 koz from the previous quarter, while total supply decreased by 19% (-410 koz) to 1,773 koz from Q4 2019.
This resulted in a surplus of 124 koz for the first quarter of the year. The WPIC now predicts that 2020 will have a surplus of 247 koz, only 128 koz higher than its previous forecast despite the impact of the ongoing pandemic.
Nonetheless, demand in 2020 is expected to be 18% lower than in 2019, due to weak automotive and jewellery sales and lower investment demand. The WPIC has forecasted supply to be down 13% year-on-year, largely due to pandemic-related mine closures.
Paul Wilson, CEO of World Platinum Investment Council, said: “Without warning, and almost overnight, COVID-19 has presented an unparalleled situation for the platinum market, with serious and Page 2 of 3 negative direct effects on demand and supply.
“However, while these will be the focus of attention for many months to come, we must not forget the other shifting plates that also have the potential to increase demand for, and the value of, platinum.”
He added that this demand growth potential is “likely to remain long after the Covid-19 pandemic has been resolved”.