Duluth News Tribune
Opinion: Hal Quinn (President and CEO of the National Mining Association)
How are labor strikes in South Africa, Western trade sanctions against Russia, and ample mineral resources in Minnesota related? They all affect the global availability of platinum-group metals like platinum and palladium, the raw materials critical to U.S. competitiveness as well as economic opportunity in Minnesota. As tensions rise across Russia and Ukraine, the potential for further economic sanctions could disrupt Russian supplies of platinum-group metals. The current labor strike in South Africa’s mining sector has shut in production and further exacerbated supply concerns at a time of growing demand.
Platinum-group metals are crucial to the supply chains of countless U.S. industries and contribute to the production process of more than 20 percent of all manufactured goods. These metals are found in everything from catalytic converters and fuel cells in next-generation vehicles to computer chips and medical equipment, among various other applications across a myriad of industries. As prices for these metals spike to their highest levels since August 2011, American businesses are forced to play a zero-sum game to secure their raw-material needs. As it stands, the U.S. remains reliant on foreign imports for more than 60 percent of our palladium and nearly 80 percent of our platinum.