Palladium futures jumped to the highest since August 2011 on concern that supplies will be disrupted in South Africa, the world’s second-largest producer. Platinum also gained.
Members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, the biggest labor organization at Anglo American Platinum Ltd., Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. and Lonmin Plc, have been on strike in South Africa since Jan. 23. Workers were prevented from reporting for duty at Lonmin as the producer reopened mines, a union not participating in the strike said.
Palladium advanced 15 percent this year on concern that the strike in South Africa may add to a supply shortage. Prices have also gained as the U.S. and Europe threatened economic sanctions against Russia, the top producer, spurring speculation that exports will be disrupted.
“Workers have been prevented by force from returning to the mines,” Commerzbank AG said in a report. “This will doubtless make it impossible for production to be resumed and for the time being will continue to drive up platinum and palladium prices.”
Palladium futures for June delivery rose 1.4 percent to settle at $828.80 an ounce at 1:24 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Earlier, the price reached $829.20, the highest for a most-active contract since Aug. 3, 2011.
Platinum futures for July delivery climbed 2 percent to $1,485.70 an ounce. The price reached $1,487.60, the highest since March 7. South Africa is the top producer.
Police using armored vehicles are in residential areas around Lonmin’s mines in North West province, escorting employees who wish to return to work, the National Union of Mineworkers said.
No violent attacks near mines belonging to the producers were reported last night or this morning, the South African Police Service said. Four people were killed and an additional six assaulted during attacks last weekend and May 12, the police service said.
Holdings in exchange-traded products backed by platinum and palladium climbed to records this week, data compiled by Bloomberg show.