May 28, 2013 / 9:21 AM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-S.Africa looking at gold, platinum "rescue plan" -mines minister

By Wendell Roelf

CAPE TOWN, May 28 (Reuters) - South Africa may take unspecified “interventions” in the gold and platinum sectors as part of a state plan to maintain the viability of the industries, mines minister Susan Shabangu said on Tuesday.

“I have directed my officials to urgently explore all available avenues and develop a rescue plan,” she said in a speech to parliament.

There would be a “particular focus on both supply and demand-side interventions,” she said.

The world’s top platinum producers, South Africa and Russia, agreed to attempt to cope with excess supplies of the metal through a memorandum of understanding signed in March during the BRICS emerging market powers meeting in Durban.

Shabangu gave no other details as to what the interventions might involve.

However, concerns about job cuts would likely prevent Pretoria from radically manipulating the platinum supply.

Anglo American Platinum, seeking to restore profits after falling into loss last year, had to back down from an initial target of 14,000 job cuts in the face of stiff resistance from unions, the government and the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

Spot platinum on Tuesday fetched $1,442.75 an ounce, down over 35 percent from a record high of $2,240 hit in March 2008. Bullion’s price is down nearly 18 percent to date this year.

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