Platinum upgrade to golden reserve status seen as monetary alchemy
* Initiative aimed at stemming South African job losses
* Platinum market seen too small, illiquid to make "reserve grade"
* South African Reserve Bank cool on idea
By Ed Stoddard and Jan Harvey
JOHANNESBURG/LONDON, Sept 8 (Reuters) - South Africa's mining industry, unions and the government want to boost platinum's sagging fortunes by promoting it as a central bank reserve asset, but upgrading the metal to gold's coveted financial status will be an uphill struggle.
Obstacles to this attempt at monetary alchemy are many: the small size of the platinum market, gold's long history as a store of value, and the inherent aversion to risk shared by most central bankers.
The initiative, part of a bid to stem job losses in South Africa's mining sector, aims to have the white metal treated as an official central bank reserve, like gold and foreign currency holdings.
Platinum's primary role at present is industrial, as a component in emissions-capping catalytic converters used in automobiles.
South Africa accounts for about 70 percent of global platinum production, and so has the most to gain from such a development at a time when the metal's spot price is near 6-1/2-year lows below $1,000 an ounce. Continuación...