(Bloomberg) -- Sibanye Stillwater Ltd. plans to cut jobs at its US platinum-group metals operations to lower costs, after palladium prices slumped this year, shortly after announcing similar moves in South Africa.
It’s the latest sign the Johannesburg-listed company, which diversified from gold into PGMs and then battery metals, is bracing for a tougher market environment. It’s already consulting with labor unions in its home country over operating changes that could impact about 7,000 jobs at platinum and gold mines, and this month announced a $500 million convertible bond sale to bolster its balance sheet.
The US restructuring will affect about 100 employees, plus approximately 187 contract workers, Sibanye said in a statement on Wednesday. It won’t significantly impact output. The miner’s shares gained 1.2% on Wednesday, paring this year’s loss to 53%.
“We have taken decisive action to address costs at the US PGM operations, to ensure the sustainability of these long-life operations during a challenging period of lower than anticipated PGM prices,” Chief Executive Officer Neal Froneman said.
Costs at the company’s Stillwater project in Montana far exceed the revenue generated by the platinum and palladium mined there. Under the restructuring, Sibanye no longer plans to increase production from its US mines to 700,000 ounces per year by 2027, but will instead seek to retain current levels of output. Guidance for this year is 460,000 ounces of PGMs.
Palladium prices have slid more than 40% in London this year, and recently hit the lowest since 2018. Platinum has dropped about 13%.
Read More: Sibanye Starts Talks Risking 4,000 Jobs at Platinum Mines
In response to the slump in PGM prices, other platinum miners in South Africa are looking at shedding jobs. Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. is offering voluntary job cuts, including at its deep-level Rustenburg complex. Anglo American Platinum Ltd. has also held talks with the government about a potential reduction of its workforce, Bloomberg News reported last week.
As Sibanye seeks to stabilize its PGMs business, the company is bidding to grow in other areas. The firm agreed this month to acquire US metals recycler Reldan Group and is building a lithium refinery in Finland.
Sibanye is also trying to buy the Mopani copper project from the Zambian state, in a deal that would involve paying down $1.5 billion of debt owed to Glencore Plc, the asset’s previous owner.
--With assistance from Rene Vollgraaff.
(Updates with Stillwater operation in fifth paragraph)
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