(Adds detail on operations, quote from CEO)
March 24 (Reuters) - Rio Tinto said on Tuesday operations at its mineral sands mine in South Africa will be halted and activity in Quebec, Canada will slow down due to government directives in both countries to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
The rapid spread of the coronavirus has caught many countries on the back foot, leading to a growing number of nations placing themselves on virtual lockdown.
The Anglo-Australian miner said production at its Richards Bay Minerals in South Africa will be halted on Thursday for 21 days, in line with a nationwide lockdown after the number of cases sharply rose.
It was too early to predict the impact of the disruption to operations on its production forecast for fiscal 2020, or when things will get back to normal, Rio said in a statement.
In Canada, Rio Tinto said it was working to comply with the Quebec government’s directive to reduce business activity after the province tightened restrictions, including ordering the closure of all non-essential businesses.
“We will continue to work with our employees, customers, communities and suppliers to minimise any impact of action being taken to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” Chief Executive Jean-Sébastien Jacques said. (Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel and Lincoln Feast.)