17 Nov 2009 16:51

Russia's Gokhran could sell almost 30 tonnes palladium in 2009

MOSCOW. Nov 17 (Interfax) - The Russian State Precious Metals and Gemstones Repository (Gokhran) could sell 29.9 tonnes of palladium this year and as much again in 2010, Johnson Matthey, one of the world's biggest platinum-group metal distributors, said in its annual PGM market review.

Mikhail Piskulov, Johnson Matthey's Russia manager, told a briefing on Tuesday that the company did not know how big the Gokhran's palladium reserves were as this was classified information, so the forecasts are indicative.

Johnson Matthey estimates global palladium supply at 223.2 tonnes in 2009, down 1.8% from last year due to a drop in mine output in South Africa and North America. It expects demand to be 202.8 tonnes, down 3.8% from 2008. Supply would exceed demand by 20.4 tonnes if the Gokhran sells the 29.9 tonnes, the PGM review said.

The review said demand for palladium was increasing but that primary supply was only expected to increase slightly, so Russia's state reserves would be of huge significance. The reserves are limited, but it is expected some of the metal will again be sold in 2010, and the market would then be in surplus. However the market will be in deficit if metal is not sold.

Palladium forms the bulk of the Gokhran's precious metal sales and is sold mostly abroad. The metal was trading at $370.5 an ounce in London on November 17, and 30 tonnes would be worth $357 million or 10.2 billion rubles at the Central Bank's exchange rate.