- Associated Press - Monday, July 13, 2015

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - Montana’s largest mining company has laid off 11 people from its mine near Nye as prices for precious metals continue to fall.

Stillwater Mining Co. spokesman John Beaudry says the layoffs are effective Monday.

Beaudry says the 11 employees were in probationary positions and the move was in response to market pressures. He says it’s unrelated to ongoing contract negotiations with United Steelworkers International union.

Those negotiations stumbled last month when workers rejected a proposed four-year contract for the Nye mine and a refinery and smelter in Columbus.

Workers at a second Stillwater mine, south of Big Timber, are under a separate contract.

Stillwater employs roughly 1,600 people and is the only U.S. producer of platinum and palladium. Prices for the metals have dropped by more than 20 percent this year.

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