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Stillwater: Montana Operations Back To Normal After Flooding

LONDON -(Dow Jones)- Platinum and palladium producer Stillwater Mining Co. (SWC) has resumed normal operations at its two Montana mines after disruptions last week and expects the closures to have a negligible impact on production levels, it said in a statement late Tuesday. The company said it would suspend day shifts at its Stillwater and East Boulder mines May 25 following heavy road and highway flooding, which prevented some employees from getting to work safely. However, Stillwater said that--despite the rivers remaining "unusually high"--evening crews have since been able to travel safely to and from the site. "Consequently, only one shift of production was lost at the Stillwater Mine, which typically would amount to between 500 troy ounces and 600 ounces of lost production," the company said in the statement. Prior to the flooding, second-quarter production at the operation was running ahead of plan, Stillwater said. It expects May production there will likely still finish at or ahead of budget. At its East Boulder Mine, the company has also faced mechanical issues with one of its main ventilation fans, which have been more complicated and time-consuming to repair than initially expected, it said. "However, prior to the fan outage and weather issues, the ore stockpile at the concentrator was higher than normal, which has allowed the East Boulder concentrator to continue running on a normal schedule despite the reduced mine output," the company said. The two mines produced a total of 485,100 ounces of platinum and palladium in 2010. "The company has assessed the effect of these issues on its second-quarter production outlook and estimates their overall impact will be negligible," Stillwater said in the statement. -By Rhiannon Hoyle, Dow Jones Newswires; +44 (0)20 7842 9405;

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