Rio Tinto gives Richards Bay green light following security incident

Richards Bay Minerals operation. Image: Rio Tinto.

Rio Tinto has started to resume operations at the Richards Bay Minerals mine in South Africa.

A phased restart was in progress across the operation, with Richards Bay expected to return to full operations and regular production early this month.

Rio Tinto was contacting customers who were advised that a force majeure in their supply has been lifted.

It will review the restart of the Zulti South project after Richards Bay operations return to normal.

Rio Tinto has paused construction of the Zulti South project, a $US463 million ($676 million) next-stage development of Richards Bay that will sustain its current capacity and extend mine life.

The company expects its titanium dioxide slag production to be at the bottom end of guidance between 1.2 and 1.4 million tonnes this year.

“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 Richards Bay shareholders,” Rio Tinto chief executive, energy and minerals, Bold Baatar said.

The safety of the Richards Bay operation was compromised when one worker was shot and seriously injured in December last year.

Rio Tinto stated violence has escalated in the communities surrounding the mineral sands operation.

The company’s decision to resume its operations was a result of discussions led by the Premier of South African province KwaZulu-Natal to address issues in the community and provide a stable environment for Richards Bay.

Rio Tinto holds 74 per cent of interest in Richards Bay, with Blue Horison consortium owning 24 per cent. The remaining two per cent are held in an employee trust.

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