South Africa’s upstart miners’ trade union, Amcu, is starting 2014 with a bang.

Not content with becoming the recognised union over the older, more established National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), it is looking to pull off the impressive feat of organising strikes at South Africa’s three biggest platinum companies – Lonmin, Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), and Impala Platinum (Implats). That’s a combined 70,000 workers. And, more importantly, around two-thirds of the world’s platinum output. Read more

NewPlat, the world’s biggest platinum ETF (exchange traded fund), is leaving other players on South Africa’s financial markets in the dust.

New figures from show that in the first nine months of this year, R9.3bn ($954m) was raised in new capital by the exchange traded products industry through new listings on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. Thanks to NewPlat, listed at the end of April, its issuer Absa Capital (an affiliate of Barclays) has been the main raiser of fresh capital, accounting for R8.2bn of the total raised. Read more

Half full or half empty? When it comes to South African mining, you decide.

Late on Thursday, Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) announced that a two-week strike had been resolved. Earlier in the day, Statistics SA released mining data that showed overall production increased 2.1 per cent year on year in August. That’s the half full view. The pessimists’ case is equally strong. Read more

The rand – one of the weaker EM currencies in 2013 – has come to the rescue of Anglo American Platinum.

Headline earnings at Amplats (as the company is known) rose 88 per cent to R1.3bn ($132m) on revenues up 24 per cent to R24.1bn. That’s pretty much where the good news runs out, though. Read more

Platinum prices have been pretty rocky of late (see chart), but that’s not stopped exchange traded funds in the metal doing well. Earlier this year, Absa listed its fully-backed platinum ETF, NewPlat, on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

It has now emerged that NewPlat now accounts for approximately 20 per cent of the total global platinum ETF holdings. Absa confirmed to beyondbrics that as of the end of Thursday, the fund held 391,789 ounces of platinum to back its securities, representing over one-fifth of all platinum held by ETFs. What’s going on? Read more

Investors in platinum hoping for a sustained bull run may be disappointed this year. Despite the labour unrest that keeps hitting South Africa’s miners, the biggest producers, supply and demand are pretty well balanced, says Johnson Matthey, the refiner in its annual review.

Even allowing for possible disruption, South African platinum output is expected to remain flat this year and Russian stockpiles – built up in the Soviet-era – are set to diminish. So, says Johnson Matthey, if investment demand grows a bit as it did last year, the global market for platinum may be in a “slight deficit” in 2013. That’s better than a glut, but given the general caution in precious metals markets, it’s unlikely to move prices much. Read more

It’s been a roller coaster week for platinum prices, which climbed in the middle of the week before sliding back at the close. Supply disruption in Africa is a dominant factor, analysts say, something that is set to continue driving prices. Read more

Shares in Impala Platinum fell by as much as 3.4 per cent on Monday morning in Johannesburg following the release of a trading statement from the South African mining company detailing a fall in half-year profits.

The statement, warning shareholders ahead of the company’s half-year results on Thursday, says basic earnings per share for the six months ending December 31, 2012 are expected to be up to 79 per cent lower than the equivalent period in 2011, at 120-138 cents. Read more

Anglo American Platinum, the world’s top producer of the precious metal, on Monday announced a loss in the financial year to the end of December as the struggling company counts the cost of two months of wildcat strikes at its South African operations, writes Andrew England in Cape Town.

The company, which is part of Anglo American, posted a headline earnings loss of R1.47bn, compared with a profit of R3.57bn in 2011, with Amplats saying it had lost 305,600 ounces of equivalent refined platinum ounces because of the industrial rest, which erupted in August. Read more

Anglo American Platinum announced on Tuesday its intentions to close and sell off several of its mines in South Africa, as part of a long-awaited review of operations. The Johannesburg listed miner, which is part of the Anglo American group, will be shutting down four shafts in Rustenburg and divesting from its Union mine complex in Limpopo.

With 14,000 jobs at risk the plan has major implications for South Africa’s turbulent labour relations, but with a significant reduction in global platinum supply to follow, it also has wider implications for the markets. Mining stocks for rival producers rallied on the news, with platinum prices rising to three month highs. Read more

The strikes which have hobbled the South African mining industry over the past year are starting to show up in company results. Here with some New Year bad news is Anglo American Platinum.

The Johannesburg-listed miner, which is the world’s largest platinum producer with 40 per cent of global supply, released a profit warning on Monday ahead of its year-end results, stating that headline earnings per share are expected to decrease to a 491-628 cents loss. Read more

Impala Platinum on Friday finally announced the long-awaited terms of its deal to sell a majority stake in its Zimbabwe operation to local black investors in response to president Robert Mugabe’s black ownership campaign.

In line with an outline accord agreed in March, Impala said in a statement that its 87-per-cent-owned Australian-listed Zimplats subsidiary will sell a 51 per cent stake in its mining business to local black investors for $971m, with Zimplats keeping the remaining 49 per cent. Zimplats will finance the deal, lending its new shareholders the money to buy the stock. Read more

Strikes brought platinum and gold mines across South Africa to a standstill in September. Big producers such as Lonmin, Gold Fields, and Anglo American Platinum were involved. The government has now published mining production figures for the month, so we can begin taking stock of the impact. Read more

Who’d want to be in the platinum mining business at the moment? On Monday, Stuart Murray, chief executive of Aquarius Platinum, resigned. While the company statement gave no specific reason and Aquarius denied any connection, it’s hard not to see the violent unrest that has rocked the industry as part of the picture.

Shares in the world’s fourth-biggest platinum miner fell 6 per cent in London, having already been battered for most of 2012. Read more

There is a big disconnect between the gold price and the share prices of gold producers – especially those of South African producers. The metal has proved to be a far better bet than the miners.

Now with South African platinum producers forced into paying higher wages, and the industry maturing, will platinum go the same way? Chart of the week takes a look. Read more

By Michael Cirami of Eaton Vance Management

The recent violence at Lonmin’s platinum mine in South Africa, where 34 striking miners were killed by police, is a human tragedy. It is also more of a symptom of South Africa’s current problems rather than a source.

On many accounts, the last decade was a good one for South Africa. Global liquidity and rising commodities prices were a boon for the country. Although this part of the story is well known, what is less recognised is that much needed social and economic reforms never materialised during this period of prosperity. Now that the boom times have ceased, South Africa is starting to face the consequences. Read more

Difficult days for South Africa. Not only is the mining industry in turmoil but the current account deficit has suddenly soared to 6.4 per cent of GDP, the biggest gap since 2008, according to data published on Tuesday.

Equity investors have been selling in droves – on Tuesday it was Impala Platinum’s turn to fall nearly 5 per cent on news of an unexpected wage demand. But fixed income fund managers have been pouring into the country, bouyed by South Africa’s imminent inclusion in a key Citigroup global bond index.

Were bond buyers to have a change of heart, it would spell trouble – and a decline in the rand. It fell 1 per cent early on Tuesday; though it later recovered a bit, trading was very volatile. Read more

Lonmin’s crisis-hit Marikana mine on Wednesday saw 3,000 striking miners stage the biggest protest since 34 workers were shot dead by police last month.

Reuters reported that police with tear gas, assault rifles, armoured vehicles and helicopters kept watch on the demonstrators in the strongest show of police force since the immediate aftermath of the shootings.

Fortunately, this time there was no violence. But any lingering hopes of an early settlement of the dispute have been firmly dispelled. Lonmin’s shares were down by nearly 5 per cent by mid-afternoon, extending to over 30 per cent the drop since the Marikana strike began a month ago. Read more

South Africa on Thursday was preparing to mourn the death of the miners killed at the Marikana platinum mine with a memorial at the complex and other services across the country.

The focus is rightly on the human cost of the tragedy after 34 workers were killed by police last week after 10 others, including two policemen, died in violent clashes during a prolonged strike at the Lonmin mine.

But political and economic considerations are never far away, given the central role of mining in South Africa. Read more

Labour unrest in African mining isn’t stopping at the Lonmin Marikana mine where South African police last week shot dead 34 strikers.

Anglo American Platinum , the world’s largest producer of the precious metal, said on Wednesday that it had received a demand for a pay increase from its South African workers, while a trade union said miners at Royal Bafokeng Platinum‘s Rasimone site were blocked from reporting to work by colleagues, Reuters reported. With Marikana still largely strike-bound, the threat of further lost production in platinum looms large – and could extend to gold and other commodities. Read more