March 23, 2020 / 4:00 PM / 16 days ago

UPDATE 1-Sibanye-Stillwater cuts U.S. workers in response to virus

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By Tanisha Heiberg

JOHANNESBURG, March 23 (Reuters) - Sibanye-Stillwater , the world’s biggest platinum producer, said on Monday it will significantly reduce the number of people at its U.S operations on a temporary basis because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The cut-back will temporarily affect growth and delay its Montana-based Blitz project, it said.

“A decision has been made to significantly reduce the number of people at our U.S. sites, whilst maintaining production from current operations,” the company said.

The company, which has no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at its operations, did not specify the size of cuts in the United States and said its other operations would be largely unaffected.

Sibanye said it would reduce the number of contractors involved in its Blitz project, allow remote work for personnel that are not required on site, prohibit face-to-face contact with external parties and restrict site access to employees.

“As the only primary PGM producer in the United States, we will endeavour to maintain current production from our Stillwater and East Boulder mines,” Sibanye said.

The company, which also has platinum group metal (PGM) and gold operations in South Africa, said it has implemented measures across all operations to protect employees, including providing soap and disinfectants, screening employees and contractors and travel restrictions.

South Africa reported a sharp jump in confirmed coronavirus cases on Monday to 402, from less than 50 just over a week ago, while the United States has recorded over 33,000 cases with more than 400 deaths. (Reporting by Tanisha Heiberg; Editing by Jan Harvey and Barbara Lewis)

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