Local media reports say that Norilsk Nickel expects to announce several three- to five-year contracts to supply major auto supply makers with platinum group metals (PGMs) in the second half of this year.

Leonid Rozhetskin, deputy chairman of Norilsk's management board, made the remarks concerning upcoming supply deals at an investment conference in Moscow this week.

The company plans to sign contracts with all of the world's top auto manufacturers. One of the metals, palladium, is used in catalytic converters to trap harmful gases in exhaust fumes. Rozhetskin did not specify which carmakers are in line for the contracts.

The supplies are to be carried out within Norilsk Nickel's government regulated PGM export quotas.

Norilsk Nickel has a ten-year palladium export quota which expires in 2010. Earlier this year, the government also issued a five-year platinum export quota to the company.

Norilsk controls about 60% of the world palladium supply and about 20% of platinum.

Analysts say that long-term contracts could be expected to exert a stabilising influence on the sometimes volatile PGM market.