Rio Tinto’s SA business RBM says general manager shot dead whilst travelling to work

RICHARDS Bay Minerals (RBM), a company controlled by Anglo-Australian group, Rio Tinto, said its GM Nico Swart had been shot dead this morning whilst travelling to work.

South African police are investigating the murder, according to reports by Fin24 and the Zululand Observer, a local newspaper.

“The circumstances of the shooting are unknown at this stage and the incident is being investigated by the South African Police Services (SAPS),” said RBM which added that it was cooperating with the SAPS.

More than 20 high-caliber bullets were sprayed into Swart’s vehicle in Meerensee, a residential area about 25 minutes from RBB, shortly before 7am, according to a report by the Zululand Observer.

“Our deepest condolences go to Nico’s family and his colleagues during this sad time. We call for calm and respect as the incident is investigated,” said RBM.

The murder will send shockwaves through Rio Tinto which told Bloomberg News in April it was unsure when a $463m expansion of RBM would proceed because of security problems. Work on the project was halted two years ago.

RMB employs about 5,000 workers and exports titanium dioxide slag, used to create ingredients for products including paint, plastics, sunscreen and toothpaste. The project, known as Zulti South is intended to extend the life of the entire operation as the commercially viable ore at other sites is depleted. RMB initially targeted completing the project this year, the newswire said.

Swart was 47 years old and had worked at RBM for 14 years, said Fin24. He is survived by his wife and two children.