For over 15 years, SFA (Oxford) has been unrivalled as a global commodity authority and PGM supply and demand specialist.
Jewellery offers diversity of PGM demand and a gateway to new markets. The success of jewellery sales tends to be driven by a combination of factors including population growth, cultural and traditional influences, and marketing and distribution activities. Our long track record at the heart of the jewellery industry has given us a clear understanding of the cyclical aspects of the market and the initiatives taken to create and build demand.
SFA (Oxford) has developed a robust predictive model of platinum jewellery demand and price, and consumer expenditure elasticities. On an ongoing basis, we monitor the jewellery market, companies and exchanges, metal trade flows, metal demand by region, and recycling.
Our team now also collects data to measure quarterly changes to platinum purchasing by jewellery manufacturers (turnover and stocks), as well as recycling and retail sales, thus providing an accurate, independent measure of the success of platinum jewellery by country. Quarterly monitoring also provides new insight into the impact of retailers stocking ahead of auspicious occasions, as well as the demand peaks from seasonal buying.
SFA (Oxford) has established contacts with, and visit, leading manufacturers, recyclers, wholesalers, refiners, and promoters of jewellery to gain a comprehensive understanding of the full value chain. Members of the team also visit jewellery stores around the world to gather insight into store footfall, the size of metal display space relative to competition, jewellery design (distinction), material zoning (and positioning), staff training and their understanding of platinum or palladium jewellery relative to other jewellery.
A major producer sponsored SFA (Oxford) to undertake a number of important studies on the platinum jewellery market. These studies encompassed all of the main jewellery demand regions, including India, along with a major focus on China.
On behalf of industry stakeholders, the team of analysts also conducts a major annual jewellery research report, with quarterly updates, to contextualise jewellery within the broader PGM supply and demand trends.
New automotive emissions technologies
As part of our long history of PGM research, we have been analysing and following the evolution of emissions legislation and compliance for over a decade, and this has enabled us to develop a thorough understanding of automotive emissions technologies.
SFA (Oxford) regularly provides analysis of the impact of global emission standards on key metals, as well as gasoline and diesel vehicle trends. Our research also covers automotive developments in electric vehicles (battery, hybrid and fuel cell), analysing future powertrain scenarios and their impact on PGMs and other commodities such as cobalt and lithium.
We maintain a watching brief on all technological and legislative developments affecting PGM supply and demand. The team undertakes assignments on aspects of new powertrain technology, such as the security of PGM supply in light of new automotive technologies and products, the long-term viability of the fuel cell industry, and electric vehicle technology and associated battery developments.
Launched in July 2018: The drivers for mobility change
A unique 360° study on the influences affecting tomorrow’s powertrain mix arising from the megatrends of urbanisation, air quality and digitisation. The report removes the ‘noise’ and diversely opinionated auto mobility sector forecasts clouding the marketplace and can inform the strategic assessments of companies and organisations.
China’s PGM market
SFA (Oxford) has greatly expanded its analysis of China’s PGM supply chain from beyond the refinery gate to encompass the full end-use marketplace including automotive OEMs, jewellers, catalyst fabricators, petroleum refiners, glass fabricators and electronics manufacturers. Furthermore, we have developed a detailed understanding of sectoral key players/users, PGM trading, regulations, catalyst manufacturing and recycling in China.
China’s market size and structure (metal flows) have been analysed within a global context and the country’s precious metals trading environment and regulations for foreign companies, processes and restrictions have been examined. Projections on essential consumption rates (loadings, metal content), recycling market volumes and end-use growth are regularly derived and monitored.
The SFA (Oxford) team has a fast-growing network of PGM industry contacts in China’s upstream supply linkages as well as with many downstream players and users across the automotive, chemical, jewellery, public and governmental sectors. Chinese keynote speakers have recently provided significant clarity and insights on precious metal recycling at our Oxford Platinum Lectures event.
SFA (Oxford) has also undertaken a PGM market study that covers the whole of Southeast Asia.
Autonomous vehicles market
Through our long-standing, extensive research into strategic metals, SFA (Oxford) has developed a thorough understanding of future mobility solutions, allowing us to assist autonomous vehicle industry players with their market strategy and contextualisation, while producing the most in-depth study on the global autonomous vehicle market. The advancement of vehicle autonomy could significantly alter the global automotive market, potentially changing the conventional vehicle ownership model and introducing new, non-traditional automotive players to the industry. Autonomous technology is likely to strongly influence the electric vehicle (EV) sector, becoming a key selling point for EVs, with autonomy and electrification possibly accelerating the development and adoption of each other.
This unique 350+ page study, completed in 2018, covers the development and growth of car sharing and autonomous vehicles, which may become closely linked in the future. It addresses questions such as: Are autonomous cars a logical solution to crowded roads? How close are we to high-level autonomous vehicles being available and what are the barriers to large-scale acceptance and adoption? What are the legal hurdles to getting autonomous vehicles onto public roads?
In addition to autonomous technology developments and challenges, many of the major players across the value chain have been identified and key industry relationships mapped.
SFA (Oxford) has tracked the development of PGM usage and subsequent scrap generation in the autocatalyst, jewellery, and electrical and electronic sectors. This supply-side analysis for autocatalysts and these assumptions are underpinned by data on vehicle production, sales, trade, age distribution, collector locations and vehicle parc, as well as an understanding of historical, regional catalyst introduction and associated changes in loadings. The analysis has enabled us to model and define, by region, the existing and potential future volumes of PGMs and associated ceramic components available for recovery and recycling.
In modelling PGM volumes, the team also accounts for the price factors and elasticities affecting profitability, including price structures and metal returns, pricing conditions, hedging, and the sensitivity and volatility of metal prices, in order to provide a risk assessment of volume growth.
The model also takes into consideration the effects of price elasticity, currency and price volatility on recycling volumes, particularly for jewellery, and includes analysis of the drivers of price appreciation, such as mine cost inflation.
Furthermore, our long-term assessment takes account of the potential ratio and volume of metals returning to market against processing margins, technology, capacity and utilisation rates. The emerging business case for recycling autocatalysts in China and India (potential growth areas) is also considered.
PGM price setting is opaque, with numerous short-term drivers of price, including macroeconomics, events and market fundamentals. Most trading occurs over-the-counter (OTC), with the LBMA platinum and palladium prices (the 'fix') acting as references for parties outside the OTC market.
SFA (Oxford) undertook a unique exploration of the purchasing dynamics between market participants, the complexity of the associated price web and the driving factors for platinum, palladium and rhodium prices. It provided definitive answers to frequently asked commercial questions, revealing the sheer size, scale and depth of metal flows, apportionment of physical metal flows and paper trading, demand for each metal by end-users, stock levels of each metal and much more.
With its unrivalled insight into the PGM industry, SFA (Oxford) can guide its clients through the labyrinth of PGM metal flows from mine to market to recycling.
In addition, we can provide commentary and detailed data on industrial demand that helps clients to capitalise on business development opportunities. For example, a breakdown of platinum and palladium volumes by automotive manufacturer (for cars, light commercial vehicles, motorbikes, heavy-duty vehicles and non-road machinery), or data on a range of non-automotive applications (such as the use of ruthenium in hard disk drives, chip resistors and other electronic components).
We also assist our clients in finding new profitable opportunities for PGMs, identifying new areas of global demand beyond the familiar and well-supplied markets. We believe that in order to support our clients in maintaining their commercial advantage, it is important to identify products and applications which mesh with global trends, including environmental sustainability and energy efficiency, especially where underpinned by strong legislative drivers.
As well as producing regular reports on industrial demand by metals, the team regularly undertakes analysis of new technologies and identifies the major end-users of platinum, palladium, rhodium, ruthenium and iridium, ranked by region and company.