The last obstacle before the resumption of Russian platinum shipments has been removed, industry sources in Moscow say, and a new export policy is in effect.
Nikolai Kozin, vice president and Moscow representative of Koryakgeoldobycha, told The Russia Journal that "it is now certain that Koryakgeoldobycha has a quota [for platinum exports]." He said he would meet late in the week with Almazjuvelirexport, the state trading agency, to discuss the terms of his export sales.
Almazjuvelirexport is a commercial enterprise, officially under Finance Ministry supervision. It is the marketing channel for exports of Russian platinum-group metals to contract buyers, mostly in the United States and Japan.
Traders in Almazjuvelirexport also manage spot-market and other operations with physical metals and options. The timing of these is a well-kept secret in Russia, although dealers in London, Zurich, Tokyo and New York say they watch the Russian moves very closely.
In a passing remark March 13, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin announced he was tightening the secrecy surrounding these operations. Kudrin made his remark after being asked if President Vladimir Putin had signed the resolution authorizing this year's platinum and rhodium export quotas. The quota document must be signed before export licenses can be issued, and shipments begin. Speculation about the quota signing has kept platinum prices high in spot-market dealings since January.
It is now believed that Putin finalized the quota at the start of March. State officials, following Kudrin's orders, have claimed they know nothing. According to Kudrin, not only the volume of the quota for exports of platinum-group metals will be kept secret. The timing of the signing of the quota by the president will also be classified, and even the fact that the document exists will be secret.
Russian producers and traders say they believe the secrecy is an attempt to conceal state operations with stockpile metal, including swap-and-loan transactions with European banks, and options deals.