Women in PGMs July Newsletter

15 July 2020 \ Wilma Swarts

When we sent a news update in April, it was mainly to ensure that we alert everyone that our planned function at Fortnum and Mason would sadly not go ahead. We don't think any of us realised how profoundly our human existence will be challenged by the Corona virus. It has touched us all, at both professional and personal level, and as we continue to navigate these uncharted waters, we believe it is more critical than ever that we have a strong network and maintain discussion and engagement on matters specific to who we are - Women in Platinum Group Metals. With this in mind, we wanted to assure you that the team has chiseled away during this time of lock-down and we have some exciting new developments.

New Board Member

We are delighted that Kirthanya Pillay has joined our board to strengthen our representation in South Africa and bring a range of analytical and financial skills to our discussions and plans for this network. Kirthanya is a senior financial executive with over 14 years’ experience in investment banking, corporate finance  and corporate strategy.

She has spent most of her career in the resources sector, predominantly in Investment Banking before moving to the corporate sector and joining Impala Platinum as Group Executive: Corporate Development. During her time in banking, she advised on international and local transactions in the metals and mining, oil, gas and related sectors. She is passionate about the resources sector, the contribution it makes to the South African and global economy and the changing positive role it is playing in the lives of people.

Sponsor Funding

For any network or association to do effective and meaningful work it requires not only dedication by a group of like minds, but also funding to enable the interactions, reach and the continued development.

We are truly grateful for the unwavering commitment demonstrated by Hilton Ingram and the team at Anglo American. During this time, when cash conservation is of key and paramount concern for companies and individuals across the spectrum, it would have been easy to delay or withdraw any funding commitment.

As a board, we are committed to apply these funds wisely, to ensure we deliver on our objectives and Anglo American's vision to develop a multi-disciplinary platform for the upliftment and development of women, that reaches across the entire Platinum Group Metals value chain.

Website and Logo

The logo is completed and will now feature on all our correspondence with you. The website is a work in progress, and we aim to launch it towards the end of the European summer. If you enter www.wipgms.com you will get to our holding page.We are excited about these new developments as it allows us to start promoting our identity and becoming a recognised brand within the industry. 

Our Events

September 2020 - WIPGMs - Early September - Virtual Catalysis Session

As it will be some time before the world, and so too our industry return to normal, we are planning to host a virtual network session during the traditional New York Platinum Week. Both the LPPM and IPMI have indicated that they will not be hosting any functions during the week and we thought it would be a good idea for us to check in with our members and host a session during which we can discuss key challenges within our sector and our countries.

17 May 2021 WIPGMs Platinum Week Afternoon Tea at Fortnum & Masons

We have locked in the date, time and venue. We have space for 60 attendees. Closer to the time we will send out invitations and further details.  

Questions for Our Hosts

In February, when we were planning the Platinum Week event, we asked four key individuals from various segments of the industry to host some of our tables. While we will likely ask them to do the same at the 2021 event, we thought it would be insightful to pose a few burning questions our members have directed to us.   

Jill Wolfe, Head of Marketing Africa at Anglo American Platinum

Q: What has been the most significant change in how mining serve the market since lock-down?

A: COVID-19 has been a profound humanitarian issue around the world. On the mining side, our top priority remains keeping our people safe, with testing, social distancing and other behavioural changes. It has been humbling to see how my colleagues have risen to the challenge, not only from within Anglo American Platinum but also from the communities in which we operate.  Continuing to pay people through lock-down also supported local communities by keeping cash flowing.  Looking to our customers, the challenge has been to work together in a time of profound uncertainty. We shipped metal early, through new routes with complex logistics, and stored it to make sure that as many of our customers had product when they needed it as possible. The ongoing challenge is building relationships through this: Anglo American Platinum has had production issues of its own and our customers have had stoppages to contend with. This has been done through each side treating the other as an equal partner rather than an old-fashioned customer-supplier relationship.

Maria Piastre, President at Metallix Refining Inc.

Q: Do you think new social distance requirements will lead to lower output in refining for 2020?

A: The precious metals refining industry is deemed essential and has therefore not been required to close operations during the COVID-19 period. Refiners play an important role in the supply chain that provides precious metals to companies that manufacture critical products at this time, primarily in the medical and pharmaceutical industries. We are of course following social distancing, sanitising, and monitoring temperature reading measures for employees and visitors at our facilities, however in large we have not discontinued operations and the impact on refining outputs in 2020 has been minimal. 

Within the industrial PGM’s we are only seeing a small decrease in demand (thus precious metals recycling needs), but on the other hand, the use of PGM’s within the consumer end of the market such as automotive catalysts, electronics, and jewellery was severely affected during the first months of lock-down. Thankfully, we are starting to see a resurgence in businesses that suggest manufacturing is well on the road to recovery. Restrictions with movements of material appear to be easing, especially cross the border, which helps tremendously. Overall I believe the Precious Metals Refining Industry has not suffered an impact as many other sectors leaving me optimistic for future output in refining during the second half of 2020. 

Dr. Jenny Watts, Principal Analyst at SFA

Q: Are there any seismic shifts that can be expected for PGM demand due Covid-19?

A: Autocatalyst demand for platinum, palladium and rhodium has of course slowed with the lost vehicle production and sales in 2020; lower than previously forecast demand is expected to follow through into 2021 and beyond, depending on the pace of the recovery. We expect market balances for the PGMs to be significantly perturbed in the near term, as the interruptions to supply and disruptions to demand are out of step with each other.  The pandemic has raised the profile of local air quality in the near term, and wider environmental concerns over the longer term. Some countries are incentivising the adoption of battery electric vehicles, with minimal PGM content, while others are supporting electrified powertrains in the form of hybrids, where a PGM-containing autocatalyst is still required. Interest in the hydrogen economy has increased greatly; decarbonising industry and transport and ensuring energy security have received much greater attention during and post-pandemic. The opportunities, especially for the minor PGMs (iridium and ruthenium) in producing ‘green’ hydrogen via electrolysis and in fuel cells, are expected to grow over the decade ahead.

Dr. Marguerite Doyle, Managing Director at Heraeus Metal Processing Ltd

Q: Does Brexit still feature in the board room discussions and what impact will it have on the PGM industry in Europe?

A: It seems as if the Brexit topic has been in hibernation throughout the recent Covid lockdowns but we are very aware that it will be awakening soon. So to answer the direct question, yes, at all levels of Heraeus regular discussions on Brexit are held. Unfortunately the impact of Brexit will only be fully understood once it is clear how the UK will finally leave but there could be consequences for logistics and the final cost of goods due to tariffs and vat. Also we expect if a hard Brexit occurs this will lead to an immediate period of disruption as there is significant movement of raw materials and finished products between the UK & the EU. Thereafter present competitive market positions could be jeopardised and we are working on strategies to minimise the impact as much as we can. But equally with risk we see potential opportunities, particularly in the regulatory space and we remain open and poised to ensure we do not miss them.

About the WiPGMs Network

Over the past year our network has grown to over 130 women from 15 countries representing more than 70 different organisations.  With this in mind and given that the entire world is having to rethink how we work and interact due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, it would be interesting to hear back from network members in other locations on how they are navigating the new world we find ourselves in.Which programmes and activities keep the children occupied while you get on with your day job? Or if like our Chair, you have no children, how did you keep yourself from the fridge, and did you? Did you learn a new skill?

If you want to know more about any of our initiatives, please do not hesitate to contact any one of the board members. Keep safe, informed and in touch (electronically speaking).

Wilma Swarts

Wilma Swarts

Wilma is director of PGM Research at Metals Focus.

She is a commercialisation professional with 12 years’ experience in precious metals sales and marketing and 17 preceding years’ experience in business management, classical marketing, product development, market intelligence development and distribution. She served on various boards including chairman of The Platinum Incubator, director of The World Platinum Investment Council and The Platinum Jewellery Development Association and non-executive director of Furuya Metals in Japan.  She joined Metals Focus as Director of PGM Research in April 2020. In her leisure time she likes to play golf, run, cycle, and spend time with her indulging and patient husband.

wilma@wipgms.com

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