Rio Tinto plans to slow down its international operations in Canada and South Africa as a response to government measures to mitigate the coronavirus spread.
Rio Tinto is set to halt the Richards Bay Minerals titanium dioxide operations for 21 days as of midnight on Thursday March 26.
The company will place the Richards Bay furnaces on care and maintenance to avoid damage to its continuous operations, and delay the construction of Richards Bay’s next stage development, the Zulti South project.
In Canada, the Premier of Quebec also announced the closure of all non-essential businesses until April 13.
While Rio Tinto understands the aluminium and mining industries have been designated as essential, its business activities in Quebec will be reduced to a minimum.
The mining giant has several operations across Quebec, including the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean aluminium operations, Rio Tinto Fer et Titane ilmenite mine and the Iron Ore Company of Canada.
Rio Tinto intends to continue working with the Quebec Government to comply with its directions relating to the shutdown or slowdown of operations.
The company stated it was too early to confirm whether the suspensions would have an impact on either the Richards Bay or Canadian production guidance.
“The health and safety of our people is Rio Tinto’s key priority and we are supportive of the action being taken by various governments to address the threat of COVID-19 (coronavirus disease of 2019),” Rio Tinto chief executive Jean-Sébastien Jacques said.
“We will continue to work with our employees, customers, communities and suppliers to minimise any impact of action being taken to reduce the spread of COVID-19.”