I agree. What a tragedy for Mr. Dale Madson and his family and friends, as well as for SWC. It may just be coincidental to SWC's other problems this year, but who would want to work for SWC at this point? Did management take their eye off the North American PGM operations ball, while lusting after a ridiculous long-term South American copper project, that SWC shareholders clearly did not and do not want (the market has spoken loudly on that, IMO)?
If the SWC directors have even a shred of independence from Frank McAllister, and wish to uphold their implied committment to the SWC shareholders and employees, they'll fire McAllister immediately, IMO. Or at least fire him as soon as possible after Mr. Madson's funeral. McAllister has been a disaster for the shareholders, and now it appears (whether this is a fair assessment or not) that safety at the Montana mine has not been what we'd have expected. I don't know for sure that the smoking equipment last week and yesterday's fatality could have been avoided if management had remained focused entirely on the North American PGM business, but there certainly have to be doubts about that now.
In my opinion, the situation at SWC has gotten entirely out of hand (both the Peregrine fiasco and the mine safety concerns), and it's high time for the SWC board of directors to act responsibly for the SWC shareholders and employees. Mr. Madson and his family, co-workers, and friends have my deepest sympathy; I realize that accidents happen, but reading about Mr. Madson in the link below made me sad and angry, thinking that possibly this could have been avoided:
That above-linked story notes that there was a fatal injury at the Stillwater mine in 2005. What did management do with regard to safety, after that death, which the above article states that "was cited for unsafe work procedures and inadequate safety controls."? And what had SWC done about safety prior to 2005 (for those who might not know, McAllister became CEO/Chairman of SWC in early 2001)? Last week on the conference call, when talking about the Marathon project, McAllister spoke as if SWC goes beyond the requirements of the regulators, to do things that right way and engender goodwill in the community, indicating that this is how SWC operates. All that seems like BS now, given what has been happening with SWC recently.
With what has happened this year, I don't see how SWC shareholders and employees can take avoid wondering if McAllister's words don't mean much - and that's bad for any company. Where the heck is the board of directors? Again, Mr. Madson's death was a terrible tragedy, and I'd like to think it had nothing to do with SWC management, that's at least the assumption we'll have to make at this point. However, it did happen, there were also TWO separate issues of smoke just last week, there was the worker death in 2005, and of course there's the Peregrine purchase - which clearly tanked the SWC share price, a huge undertaking and major change of business direction, on which SWC shareholders were not even allowed to vote. All of this has happened over just the past 4 months. What's next?