Rio Tinto halts mining at South African site amid violence concerns

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Mining giant Rio Tinto on Wednesday said it has decided to curtail work at one of its South African sites following heightened violence against employees, with one staff member shot.

The FTSE 100 company said there had been an “escalation in violence in the communities surrounding” its operations at the Richards Bay Minerals mine on South Africa’s Indian Ocean coast. It is the majority owner of that site.

Unrest has hit the area before, but the company said there has been an “escalation of criminal activity towards employees and one was shot and seriously injured in the last few days”.

Richards Bay Minerals’ boss Werner Duvenhage said demonstrations are not related to the firm, Bloomberg reported. The news service added that South African protests against everything from municipal services to strikes are often marred by violence, assaults against non-striking workers and the blocking of roads.

Rio Tinto, led by Jean-Sébastien Jacques, said all mining operations at Richards Bay Minerals have been halted. The smelters work is operating at a reduced level with just a few employees on site.

Construction of one of its nearby projects, the subject of a recent $463 million (£355 million) investment, has also been temporarily paused.

Bold Baatar, chief executive of energy & minerals at Rio Tinto, said “The safety of our people is Rio Tinto’s key priority.” 


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December 5, 2019 |
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