Sibayne-Stillwater reports losses following June floods in Montana
Three months after a 500-year flood devastated parts of Montana, Sibanye-Stillwater Mining is reporting revenue losses of more than $100 million during the unplanned shutdown.
The floods on June 12-13 did not impact the underground Stillwater Mine itself, but did wipe out parts of Montana Highway 419, a highway heavily used by the mining operations.
In September, Sibanye Stillwater reported that the company’s profits were down 51 percent from the record profits in the first half of 2021 in part because of the flooding.
In a report on its U.S. platinum group metals operations, the company said production from its Stillwater mine about 80 miles from Billings was suspended for seven weeks. The underground mine extracts PGMs, or Platinum Group Metals, including platinum, palladium, rhodium and others.
The Billings Gazette reported the production suspension had an estimated impact of 60,000 ounces for 2022. The lower mined production also impacted recycling feed rates at the company’s recycling facility, because production from the mine is needed for blending with high grade autocatalyst feedstock.
In the operating and financial results report, Sibanye Stillwater CEO Neal Froneman said the company’s performance for the six months which ended June 30, 2022 “reflects the deterioration in the global economic and political environment during the first half of 2022, and a challenging period for the group due to significant disruptions experienced at the South Africa gold and U.S. PGM operations.”
The U.S. PGM operations mined 2E PGM production of 230,039 ounces in the first half of 2022. This was a 23 percent decline from the first half of 2021, which the company said was “a result of ongoing operational constraints and the temporary suspension of operations at the Stillwater mine” following the flooding.
“We were really pleased with how all of our facilities performed,” Sibanye-Stillwater Vice President Heather McDowell told Montana’s KTVQ. “I really think what we took away is that our engineering practices are really solid.”
The mine is currently using a temporary road built through neighboring private property.
Holding up the repair of Highway 419 is permitting and Mother Nature.
The river needs to be re-routed to its channel prior to the flooding, a job done by the Army Corps of Engineers, but that cannot be completed until a trout spawn is over.
McDowell says the mine has its own materials to rebuild the road from a rock quarry, but officials are waiting on the approval of permits.
Overall—McDowell said the road work needs to get underway before Nov. 15 or Stillwater will have to wait until spring.