Rio Tinto restarts S. Africa mine as security improves

Company says it will review the restart of the Zulti South project after operations normalise. (AFP pic) 

JOHANNESBURG: Rio Tinto Group is resuming operations at its South African mine that was shuttered earlier this month because of escalating violence in surrounding communities.

The Richards Bay Minerals unit should be back at full operations in early January, leading to regular production in early 2020, Rio said in a statement Monday. The decision was taken after discussions led by the Premier of the KwaZulu-Natal province, aimed at securing stability.

RBM employs about 5,000 staff and contractors, and exports titanium dioxide slag, used to create ingredients for products including paint, plastics, sunscreen and toothpaste.

Rio said Dec 4 it halted mining operations and temporarily suspended a US$463 million expansion project following weeks of protests around the area where the mine is located and after an employee was shot and injured. The demonstrations weren’t related to the company, it said at the time.

The company will review the restart of the Zulti South project after operations normalise.