Auto companies brush off impact from platinum mine strike

FRANKFURT, March 6 Thu Mar 6, 2014 9:49am EST

FRANKFURT, March 6 (Reuters) - Auto parts supplier Faurecia and German premium car maker Daimler AG downplayed the prospect of delivery bottlenecks for catalytic converters in the wake of a strike at the world's top platinum mines.

Earlier this week, wage talks collapsed between top platinum producers and South Africa's Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), dashing hopes that a six-week-long strike would end soon.

The stoppage has hit over 40 percent of global production of the precious metal, which is used to make emissions-capping catalytic converters in automobiles.

A spokesman for Daimler said the maker of luxury cars and trucks manages raw material risks through various instruments, including the use of financial derivatives, helping it to smooth volatile market prices.

"With regard to the current strikes in South African platinum mines, we do not expect any short-term implications on platinum prices beyond the usual known volatilities in this market," a spokesman said in a statement. "We also do not expect any short-term implications on the overall supply situation in the platinum market."

The precious metal's spot price spiked to four-month high of around $1,480/oz after producers Anglo American Platinum , Impala Platinum and Lonmin said the government-mediated talks had broken down.

Germany's automaker association VDA said it had not noticed any bottlenecks because of the rise in platinum prices. "Often the impact of such price fluctuations are not immediately felt in the short term," a VDA spokeswoman said.

A spokesman for Faurecia said platinum prices vary for many reasons linked to supply and demand, noting that the current high of about $1480/oz is still lower than the price in September 2013, which was almost $1500/oz.

Faurecia said product sales were not likely to be hit by price fluctuations.

"The impact on Faurecia Emissions Control Technologies of an increase in the price of platinum is that our total sales should increase but our product sales will not be significantly affected," the French auto supplier, which is controlled by Peugeot, said in a statement on Thursday.

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