Sibanye-Stillwater gave notice to its employees and contractors, that it will restructure its U.S. PGM operations to reduce operating and capital costs and ensure sustainability through a lower palladium price environment. The company said it initially signaled this possibility in July 2022, when the mine was recovering disrupted operations due to a flooding event, citing an anticipated decline in the price for palladium and inflationary cost pressures.

Approximately 100 Sibanye-Stillwater employees will be laid off, the majority of which are at the Stillwater mine in Montana, with the remainder spread between the East Boulder mine, the Columbus Metallurgical Complex and Columbus offices as well as remote work locations. This follows attrition of approximately 20 employees since beginning of October 2023. A significant number of contract workers other than essential services will also be impacted, with 187 contractors (69% of the contract miners) affected across the sites.

The Stillwater mine produces platinum group metals (PGM) and was known as a platinum mine until palladium (another PGM) reached meteoric heights of $2,800/oz or more a few years ago. The metal is primarily consumed in catalytic converters and its demand cycles follows the automotive and trucking industries. Since July 2022, palladium prices have dropped from $1,944/oz to $1,038/oz today. Platinum has remained range bound between $800/oz and $1,200/oz for several years now.

The company said the restructuring is not expected to significantly impact current 2E mine production or recycling production but will result in significantly lower costs and capital.