December 3, 2019 / 9:53 PM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 1-Rio Tinto halts operations at South African unit as violence rises

(Adds outlook, CEO comment)

Dec 4 (Reuters) - Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto Ltd on Wednesday said it would curtail operations at its South African unit, Richards Bay Minerals (RBM), due to escalating violence targeting some of its workers.

“There has been an escalation of criminal activity towards RBM employees and one was shot and seriously injured in the last few days,” Rio said in a statement.

The company said all mining operations have been halted and the smelters are operating at a reduced level, with a minimum number of employees now on site.

“The safety of our people is Rio Tinto’s key priority and we have taken decisive action to stop operations to reduce the risk of serious harm to our team members,” said Bold Baatar, chief executive, Energy & Minerals.

Construction of the Zulti South project, for which Rio had approved a $463 million investment in April, has also been temporarily paused.

Rio now expects 2019 titanium dioxide slag production to be at the bottom end of its guidance of between 1.2 and 1.4 million tonnes. (Reporting by Niyati Shetty in Bengaluru Editing by Chris Reese and Tom Brown)

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