Another platinum glut forecast for 2022 after huge surplus last year

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LONDON, March 9 (Reuters) - The global platinum market was hugely oversupplied in 2021, the World Platinum Investment Council (WPIC) said on Wednesday as it predicted another large surplus of the metal this year.

Platinum is used alongside palladium and rhodium to neutralise exhaust emissions in cars, as well as in industries such as glassmaking, for jewellery and as an investment.

"We've got the largest surplus we've ever recorded yet the market remains pretty tight," Trevor Raymond, the WPIC's head of research, said.

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Raymond said a huge rise in palladium prices triggered by the conflict in Ukraine could make automakers switch more rapidly to cheaper platinum to save money, boosting demand.

Russia accounts for 25-30% of the world's palladium supply and 7-10% of its platinum.

Uncertainty over Russian exports has pushed palladium prices to record highs above $3,000 an ounce. Platinum prices have risen less dramatically to around $1,170 an ounce. ,

The WPIC said the roughly 8 million ounce a year market was oversupplied by 1.23 million ounces in 2021 and predicted a surplus of 652,000 ounces in 2022.

It said supply of platinum rose by 21% last year, while demand fell 9%.

But huge imports of platinum into China, much of it by speculators taking advantage of relatively low prices, consumed the market surplus in 2021, the WPIC said.

The council said platinum supply should fall 1% in 2022 as a backlog of semi-processed material in South Africa runs out.

It said it expected demand, which dropped last year as a sharp fall in purchases by investors more than offset higher consumption by industry and jewellers, to rise by 7% in 2022.

Higher loadings of platinum in heavy duty vehicles in China and substitution of palladium for platinum lifted demand from the auto sector despite lower vehicle output due to a chip shortage, the council said.

The roughly 8 million ounce a year market is set for another big surplus in 2022.

Following are supply and demand numbers and comparisons.

ANNUAL PLATINUM SUPPLY/DEMAND ('000 oz)*

QUARTERLY PLATINUM SUPPLY/DEMAND ('000 oz)*

* Source: World Platinum Investment Council, Platinum Quarterly Q4 2021

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Reporting by Peter Hobson; Editing by Alexander Smith

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