Rio Tinto has ceased mining operations at Richards Bay Minerals (RBM) in South Africa after one of its employees was shot and injured.
Local protesters have targeted RBM employees and, while mining operations have stopped, smelters are operating at a reduced level. There are about 5,000 workers employed at RBM.
The global metals company’s $463mn Zulti South project has also been shelved temporarily until the protests are over.
The halted operations will, without a doubt, affect Rio Tinto’s production. Titanium dioxide slag production for 2019 is expected to be at the lower end of the company’s guidance of 1.2-1.4mn t (1.08-1.27mn mt).
The protests are part of a wider crime wave that has consumed South Africa through 2019.