Strikes prompt fears of rising platinum prices
Fears are growing that platinum prices could rocket if industrial disputes in South Africa, which accounts for 80 percent of the world’s platinum supply are not resolved soon.
The worst affected has been Lonmin, owners of the Marikana Mine, where once again the industrial action has led to deaths and violent clashes.
Lonmin has seen a 43 percent drop in its production, which it revealed in its half-year financial statement last week.
Chief Executive Ben Magara warned a restructuring and job cuts were inevitable given that some its shafts had already been loss making before the dispute, but the strikes had made the need more urgent.
Analysts agree that so far stockpiling, recycling and long production times have prevented the strikes from causing a spike in global prices.
However, if the issues are not resolved soon price volatility will hit and ultimately make an impact on platinum users such as the automotive industry and other sectors.
While the three companies involved will not reveal their stockpiles it is believed that most platinum producers hold up to four months’ of stock.
Latest figures for recyling of platinum also shows a significant rise from 2003 when just 645,000 ounces were recycled to 2.1 million ounces last year.
However, even if the strikers do now return to work it could take as long as six months for the mining companies to ramp up their production.
Lonmin had hoped its strikers would return to work last week after taking its wage offer directly to its employees, sidestepping the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union.
An offer of a miner’s basic monthly salary package rising to R12,500 by July 2017 has been rejected by workers who are demanding the deal takes effect immediately.
Two mineworkers were killed attempting to return to work, which prompted calls for the South African Government to step in and take action to resolve the dispute and prevent violence escalating as it did two years ago when 44 mineworkers were killed and a further 78 injured in the so-called Marikana Massacre.
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.