What: Stillwater Mining Company's (NYSE:SWC) shares plummeted 23.6% last month. But that was better than it could have been, since the shares were down nearly 38% at one point.

So what: Stillwater mines for platinum and related metals. Like other commodities, there's a supply/demand imbalance that's left the price of the metals this miner produces in the dumps. And leading into the middle of January, platinum prices were falling -- which helps explain the nearly 40% price decline. It's worth highlighting here that Stillwater's shares fell about 40% in all of 2015.

Around the middle of January, though,  platinum prices started to move higher even though they still ended the month at a lower point than where they started. And Stillwater's shares rose along with them. This is the same thing that happened throughout the precious metals space and was a virtual carbon copy of what happened with Coeur Mining (NYSE:CDE), which ended January down around 11% but was off some 30% at the midpoint of the month. Coeur's focus is silver and gold.

Now what: Stillwater continues to work hard to control what it an, reducing costs and enhancing production. It's actually done a good job, reducing its all in sustaining costs even more than it promised to last year, for example. But as a miner it can't outrun the price vicissitudes of the commodities it sells. Until there's more clarity in the commodity space, Stillwater's shares will remain volatile.