South African platinum group metals (PGM) miners Sibanye-Stillwater and Impala Platinum, along with chemical firm BASF, have developed a new tri-metal auto catalyst that allows for the partial substitution of palladium with platinum.

Adoption of the new tri-metal Catalyst technology enables a reduction in catalytic converter costs and partially eases sustained palladium deficits, thereby improving sustainability in the PGM market.

BASF precious and base metal services senior vice-president Matthias Dohrn said: “The tri-metal catalyst is intended to create greater supply certainty for our customers and potentially reduce their costs.”

The research by BASF was sponsored by Sibanye and Impala.

Under the strategic collaboration, the companies had developed and tested the tri-metal catalyst technology, which will enable partial replacement of high-priced palladium with lower-priced platinum in light-duty gasoline vehicles.

Sibanye-Stillwater CEO Neal Froneman said: “Having co-invested in this research with BASF and Impala Platinum to proactively supply our customers with a timely solution to the anticipated palladium deficits we are currently experiencing, we are delighted with the availability of this technology.

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“As a company, we are committed to investing in market development opportunities that will meaningfully ensure the sustainability of the PGM industry for the benefit of all our stakeholders, including the end users of our metals.”

Meanwhile, the World Platinum Investment Council (WPIC), in its latest quarterly report, has said that the platinum surplus is set to rise to 119 kilo ounces (Koz) this year from 65Koz last year.

In January this year, Sibanye-Stillwater cut jobs at its Marikana mine operations in Rustenburg, following the conclusion of a consultation process.

In October last year, Impala agreed to buy 100% of Canadian platinum group metals miner North American Palladium (NAP) shares for C$1.008bn ($758m).