Rio Tinto’s Richards Bay Minerals (RBM) operation in South Africa will shut one of its four furnaces due to the depletion of available feedstock at the plant. Mining operations have been halted following an escalation in the security situation at the operations amid growing violence in the area, which has significantly hampered the mine’s ability to operate safely. Rio Tinto declared force majeure on our customer contracts at RBM on June 30.
The four furnaces at RBM are dependent on a stockpile of feedstock, which is being steadily depleted. RBM’s decision to shut one furnace will reduce the call on the stockpile and limit the long-term impacts of a shutdown on the RBM’s furnaces.
“Shutting a furnace has a major impact on the business and broader community and it not a decision we have taken lightly,” Rio Tinto Chief Executive of Minerals Sinead Kaufman said. “However, we will not put production ahead of the safety of our people and there are still fundamental criteria that must be met before we can resume operations in a sustainable manner.
“We continue to work with national and provincial governments as well as community structures to find a lasting solution to the current situation so that operations can resume as soon as it is possible to safely do so.”
RBM said it will regularly reassess the situation to make further decisions on any potential restart or the shutting of the other furnaces, depending on when the safety and security position improves.