Bold Baatar Chief Executive, Energy and Minerals- Rio Tinto
SOUTH AFRICA: “The safety and security of our people is always our first priority and we are pleased that we will now be able to get back to work creating value for our people, our communities, South Africa and RBM’s shareholders. I would like to thank the Government of South Africa and the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal for their support and assistance in getting us to a position where we can restart operations at RBM. I would also acknowledge the work of community leaders and the police over the previous few weeks.”
 
Bold Baatar,
Chief Executive,
Rio Tinto Energy & Minerals

Rio Tinto has started the process of resuming operations at Richards Bay Minerals (RBM) in South Africa. This follows discussions led by the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, Sihle Zikalala, involving all stakeholders focused on securing stability in order to address the issues in the community and provide the stable environment necessary for RBM to resume operations.

The mining giant had curtailed operations at the mine following a a spate of security incidents. Violence had escalated in the communities surrounding the mineral sands operation as reported by the company, resulting in one Richards Bay worker being shot and seriously injured. As a result, all mining operations at RBM had been halted and the smelters were also reduced to operating at a minimal level, with only a minimum number of employees on site. “Operation Shaya Amapara” as it is referred to by those carrying out the attacks, has been ongoing intermittently over the past few weeks and appears to be well co-ordinated.

As a result of this, the company expected its titanium dioxide slag production to be at the bottom end of guidance between 1.2 and 1.4 million tonnes for the year.

A phased restart is now in progress across the operation, with RBM expected to return to full operations in early January, leading to regular production in early 2020. The company has been contacting its customers to whom it had impossed a force majeure in their supply as a result of failure to fulfi its obligations.

Bold Baatar, Chief Executive, Energy & Minerals said “The safety and security of our people is always our first priority and we are pleased that we will now be able to get back to work creating value for our people, our communities, South Africa and RBM’s shareholders. I would like to thank the Government of South Africa and the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal for their support and assistance in getting us to a position where we can restart operations at RBM. I would also acknowledge the work of community leaders and the police over the previous few weeks.”

With the smelting work operating on reduced levels, the company had also paused construction of the Zulti South project, a $US463 million ($676 million) next-stage development of Richards Bay that is meant to sustain its current capacity and extend mine life. The company is expected to review the restart of this Zulti South project after normalisation of operations at RBM.

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