Sibanye halts underground production at Stillwater West mine for four weeks

East Boulder currently produces about 240,000 ounces of platinum and palladium in concentrate a year. (Image courtesy of Sibanye-Stillwater.)

Sibanye-Stillwater (JSE: SSW, NYSE: SBSW) said on Monday that it will suspend production from the lower levels of its Stillwater West mine in Montana for approximately four weeks following an incident that damaged the shaft infrastructure.

The incident occurred during scheduled non-routine maintenance on the winder, which services the vertical shaft accessing the deeper levels of the mine. It resulted in structural damage to the shaft headgear, winder house and winder rope, the platinum group metals miner said, adding that there were no injuries to personnel from this incident and investigations into the causes of the incident are underway.

Last year, the Stillwater mine was halted for nearly six weeks, as the South Africa-based company worked on repairing damage caused after widespread flooding in Montana. Following an initial assessment of the impact of weather-triggered inundation and mudslides, Sibanye-Stillwater said at the time that its operations were largely unaffected.

The damage to the shaft infrastructure will require remediation, and access to the deeper levels of the mine will be impacted while remediation is underway. Access to the upper levels (above 50 level) of the Stillwater West mine and the Stillwater East mine are unaffected and production from these areas, as well as from the East Boulder mine, will continue.

Production from the Stillwater West mine below 50 level will be suspended until the remediation is completed, resulting in approximately 25,000 equivalent ounces to 30,000 equivalent ounces less production for the year.

Further guidance will be provided once shaft repair schedules are finalized and production schedules have been fully optimized given current shaft constraints, Sibanye said.