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COVID-19 forces Rio Tinto to suspend ops

Rio Tinto is to halt some of its operations, as a result of separate actions by the Premier of Quebec and the President of South Africa to contain the spread of COVID-19.

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At Richards Bay Minerals (RBM) in South Africa, the mining giant will curtail production, in compliance with a directive from the government aimed at containing the spread of COVID-19. As a result, all mining operations at RBM will be halted by midnight on Thursday, 26 March, for 21 days.


“In line with the president’s directive, Rio Tinto will make arrangements for the furnaces to be put on care and maintenance in order to avoid damage to their continuous operations,” the company said.


“At this time, it is too early to speculate on when operations will resume or on 2020 production guidance. Resumption of the construction of the Zulti South project will be delayed.”


In Canada, because of the threat of COVID-19, the Premier of Quebec announced the closure of all non-essential businesses from midnight today (24 March) to 13 April.


“Rio Tinto understands that the Quebec government has designated industrial complexes, including the aluminium sector and the mining industry, as essential industries but instructed that they must reduce their business activity to the minimum,” the firm stated.


It added that it will work with the government to comply with its directive in relation to its Quebec operations, and that any impacts to operations or production guidance would be reported to the market in due course.

Jean-Sébastien Jacques, CEO Rio Tinto
Jean-Sébastien Jacques, CEO Rio Tinto

“The health and safety of our people is Rio Tinto’s key priority and we are supportive of the action being taken by various governments to address the threat of COVID-19,” said Jean-Sébastien Jacques, CEO of Rio Tinto.


“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,” he concluded.

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