Sibanye's S.African gold output drops, expects to recover losses by year-end

Earlier in February miners were trapped underground for more than 24 hours after a storm knocked out power lines supplying electricity to the Beatrix gold mine. (Image courtesy of Sibanye-Stillwater.)

(Reuters) – Precious metals producer Sibanye-Stillwater's gold output at its South African mines had been hit by by safety and operational disruptions in the first quarter, it said on Thursday, adding that it expects to regain the lost ground this year.

Sibanye's gold production in the first three months of 2018 declined to 291,500 ounces, from 330,000 ounces in the same period last year, it said.

"There were three separate incidents at our South Africa gold operations, in which four employees were fatally injured. At our South African platinum group metals operations two employees were fatally injured in two separate incidents," the company said in a statement. Production at its Kloof gold mine was stopped for several days in February, pending an investigation after two miners were killed in an accident. Earlier in February miners were trapped underground for more than 24 hours after a storm knocked out power lines supplying electricity to the Beatrix gold mine.

However, Sibanye said: "Guidance for the South Africa gold operations for 2018 is unchanged, with production lost in the March 2018 quarter expected to be recovered during the course of the year".

The company's gold production forecast for 2018 ranges from 1.24 million ounces to 1.29 million ounces.

Sibanye provides financial results on a six-monthly basis but the company said that 60 percent of group-adjusted EBITDA for the quarter came from its U.S. platinum group metals operations, underscoring their importance to its bottom line.

(Reporting by Patricia Aruo; Editing by Ed Stoddard and David Goodman)