Richards Bay Minerals restarts operations after reaching agreement with local communities

Richards Bay Minerals, KwaZulu-Natal

Richards Bay Minerals (RBM) is to resume production following an agreement between the company and “community stakeholders” and has also released R130m to community trusts established for each of the communities surrounding the mining and smelter operation.

According to an RBM statement the agreement will “support enhanced governance and controls of community trusts, together with greater transparency. This agreement signifies the parties’ commitment to working together towards modernising the community trusts and to ensuring that the trusts achieve their objective of delivering broad-based benefits for members of the host communities.”

The agreement follows a  period of  violent unrest between RBM and local communities during which the company’s GM, Nico Swart, was shot dead while travelling to work during May.

RBM shut down its facilities on June 30 and declared force majeure on customer contracts because of the deteriorating security situation at the mine.

RBM has been experiencing security problems for the past two years which had caused the company to suspend plans to investment $463m on a project called Zulti South which would extend the economic life of the entire operation.

RBM employs about 5,000 workers and exports titanium dioxide slag which is used to create ingredients for products including paint, plastics, sunscreen and toothpaste.

MD Werner Duvenhage commented, “this is a major milestone. With the agreement in place, we believe that together with the visible improvements on the safety and security front and support from the provincial and national governments and host communities, including reaching an earlier agreement with the Sokhulu Youth Forum, RBM has made good progress on the core issues that have kept our business closed over the past several weeks.”

He added that RBM has commenced the process of restarting operations and will reach full operational capacity as soon as possible.”