An ‘escalation in the security situation’ at Rio Tinto’s subsidiary Richards Bay Minerals (RBM) in South Africa prompted Rio to declare force majeure on customer contracts and to altogether cease operations until the safety and security position improves.
Rio Tinto chief executive Minerals, Sinead Kaufman, said all mining and smelting operations at RBM had been halted ‘until further notice’.
“The safety of our people is our top priority,” Mr Kaufman said.
“We continue to offer our full support to the investigating authorities and I would like to acknowledge the ongoing support of the regional and national governments and South African Police Service as we work together to ensure that we can safely resume operations.”
RBM – a joint venture between Rio Tinto (74%) and Blue Horizon – is a world leader in heavy mineral sands extraction and refining and is South Africa’s largest mineral sands producer.
The company mines the vast mineral rich sands of the northern KwaZulu-Natal province and produces predominantly ilmenite, rutile and zircon – materials used in everything from paint to smart phones to sunscreen.