Rio Tinto declares force majeure at Richards Bay Minerals
Rio Tinto has declared force majeure on customer contracts at Richards Bay Minerals (RBM) in South Africa due to an escalation in the security situation at the operations. This has led to the decision to cease operations until the safety and security position improves.
Rio Tinto chief executive Minerals, Sinead Kaufman, said: “The safety of our people is our top priority. 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.”
All mining and smelting operations at RBM have been halted until further notice. The Zulti South project has remained on full suspension since the security and community issues in 2019.
Richards Bay Minerals is a world leader in heavy mineral sands extraction and refining and is South Africa’s largest mineral sands producer. RBM 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.
RBM is a joint venture between Rio Tinto (74 percent) and Blue Horizon – a consortium of investors and our Host Communities Mbonambi, Sokhulu, Mkhwanazi and Dube – which owns 24 percent. The remaining shares are held in an employee trust.
RBM has been a major contributor to the communities of KwaZulu-Natal for more than 40 years.