Japan Platinum Buyers Shrug off Quake


"Tsunami will have a limited effect on the platinum and palladium markets."

The biggest earthquake on record in Japan and the following tsunami will have a limited effect on the platinum and palladium markets. Car manufacturers in that country have also declined any relief offered by Impala Platinum, the company's marketing executive, Derek Engelbrecht, said yesterday .

Platinum and palladium prices fell between 10% and 15% after the 8.9-magnitude earthquake and tsunami on March 11 over concerns about offtake for the metal. The metals are predominantly used to make autocatalysts in exhaust systems to scrub out noxious gases.

Large Japanese car makers have suspended production for two weeks and some, such as Toyota, have said they will restart operations this weekend, having checked the status of component makers in Japan, Bloomberg reported. A large constraint on production is electricity supply.

"A two-week disruption will not create a lot of waves for platinum group metals (PGM) producers," Mr Engelbrecht said.

"The Chinese were very aggressive buyers of platinum when the price came off after the quake. The Chinese have picked up any slack on platinum," Mr Engelbrecht said, adding a sell-off in platinum futures and news from Japan offset any positive effect that this buying may have had for the metal's price.

"From a global platinum perspective, there will be some impact but I don't think it's going to be a massive impact," Mr Engelbrecht said.

Japan is a bigger consumer of palladium than platinum because the autocatalysts it makes are predominantly for petrol-fuelled cars. Platinum is used in diesel catalysts. Japan uses palladium in electronic and dental applications.

Get Our Streetwise Reports Newsletter Free

A valid email address is required to subscribe