Palladium goes from hero to zero as mining strike nears end

June 13, 2014

Johnnesburg (June 13)  Palladium ended just above a one-month low on Friday, extending its biggest drop in nearly a year from the previous session, as investors awaited confirmation that South Africa's longest mining strike would end soon.

Gold prices edged up after Thursday's 1 percent gain. The safe-haven metal, however, failed to rally further on market expectations that security conditions in Iraq will improve soon, traders said.

The leader of South Africa's striking AMCU union said on Friday he hoped to meet the three major platinum firms over the weekend to give them formal feedback from workers about a wage offer that could mean the end of a five-month strike.

Palladium fell $6.80 an ounce to $812.60, near its lowest level in a month after rallying to a 13-1/2 year high earlier this week on signs of a deadlock in wage talks.

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Platimum fell $6.30 an ounce to $1,435, having dropped nearly 3 percent on Thursday—its biggest daily drop since June last year. Gold was flat near $1,272, while U.S. gold ended the day at $1,274.10, up 10 cents on the day.

Palladium, however, tumbled as much as 5 percent on Thursday on news that platinum group metal (PGM) producers and the AMCU agreed in principle on a wage deal, taking a step closer to resuming operations after the longest strike in the 130-year history of South Africa's mines.

Analysts said PGMs still have some upside as the miners start the long and slow process of getting operations back up. South Africa's crippling five-month strike in the platinum belt has lifted palladium prices by more than 15 percent this year, outpacing gains in platinum which is up just six percent.

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