Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Exports of Platinum May Resume Soon

Russian platinum and rhodium exports may reach world markets at the end of January after a year in which they have been held up by a bureaucratic snag, the country's largest platinum group metals producer said Monday.

"I believe the markets will see our platinum and rhodium in the first quarter of 2000, perhaps at the end of January or at the beginning of February," Yury Kotlyar, board chairman of Norilsk Nickel, said.

"But there will be no massive injections of the metals. The sales will be smooth. ... Russia is not interested in lower prices, so I believe the prices will go down, but not very much."

Kotlyar also said Russia saw no problems agreeing with clients on supplies of another platinum group metal, palladium, next year. Palladium exports have not stopped this year, as their trading regime is defined by presidential decree.

However, Almazjuvelirexport, Russia's sole precious metals export agency, was prevented from carrying out sales of platinum in 1999 by loose wording in a December 1998 law.

Russia prior to 1999 accounted for around 20 percent of world supplies of platinum.

Last Wednesday, the Federation Council, the upper chamber of parliament, passed an amendment to the problematic law, which cleared the path for renewed exports.

The bill has now to be signed into law by President Boris Yeltsin, who has also to sign quotas for exports in 2000.

"I believe both documents, the [amendment to the] law and the draft of the quota decree, will be put on the president's table on the same day," Kotlyar said.

"I see no problem for the documents to be ready by Jan. 6, but even in this case the Trade Ministry will not be able to issue export licenses until after Jan. 9 because of the holidays."

Russia will have a long weekend from Jan. 7, when it will celebrate Orthodox Christmas.

Kotlyar said Russia has already started talks on platinum and rhodium supplies with foreign clients and will be ready to sign supply contracts when the export quotas decree is signed.

"After that Almazjuvelirexport will be able to start exporting them very fast," he said.

Kotlyar said palladium export deals could be signed in a week's time if need be, unless clients pushed for discounts.

"But we are going to choose between partners which are ready to work on the real market and not speculate," he said.

Industry sources in Tokyo said in the middle of December that Almazjuvelirexport had started negotiations with several Japanese importers on 2000 palladium supply contracts.

Almazjuvelirexport was unavailable for comment.

"I understand that negotiations are proceeding very calmly," Kotlyar said. "The talks are about signing long-term contracts, and not only with Japanese clients."

He said part of the metal under future contracts will be supplied by Norilsk, which has a 10-year quota for palladium exports, and another part by the Central Bank, which gets quotas for palladium exports from its stocks on an annual basis.

"But we [Norilsk and the Central Bank] pursue the same policy, working so that consumers are confident they will get the metal they need," Kotlyar said.

Russia accounts for around 70 percent of world supplies of palladium, used mainly in vehicle exhaust catalysts.