South African Strike Pushes Platinum Prices Up

(AP) -

Platinum and palladium settled at their highest prices this year Thursday, as a mining strike in South Africa continues to cripple production.

Platinum for July delivery surged $18.20 to settle at $1,493.10 an ounce. Palladium for June rose $6 to $836.45 an ounce. That’s the highest settlement price since Feb. 2011, according to FactSet data.

One mineworker was reportedly killed on his way to work Thursday, one of several deaths tied to the strike this month. Talks between the main miners’ union and mining companies aimed at ending the four-month strike started Wednesday. But the CEO of Impala Platinum, a large mining company, told Reuters that he sees no quick resolution and that the strike could continue much longer.

The strike, which started Jan. 23, has squeezed worldwide platinum production. South Africa is the world’s top producer of platinum, and the second-largest producer of palladium, behind Russia.

Copper and precious metals also traded higher Thursday. Copper for July rose 2 cents to $3.14 a pound. Gold for June gained $6.90 to $1,295 an ounce, while silver for July rose 18 cents to $19.52 an ounce.

In other trading, wheat fell 5 cents to $6.59 a bushel. Corn rose 2 cents to $4.77 a bushel and soybeans climbed 14 cents to $15.19 a bushel.