06 Jul 2021

Richard Bay Minerals- Suspension of Dune Mining Operations at Richards Bay

by Allan Heydorn, Partner, Richards Bay, Tony Edwards, Partner, Durban,
Practice Area(s): Shipping & Logistics |

Richards Bay Minerals (Pty) Ltd (“RBM”), a subsidiary of Rio Tinto, has suspended its dune mining operations at Richards Bay for an indefinite period having declared force majeure on customer contracts.

RBM has been plagued by violence arising from traditional leadership and employment issues for many years.

More recently, on 24 May 2021, the operations manager was assassinated whilst en route to work.  Mining equipment including heavy duty graders and cranes were set alight and destroyed during the same period.

RBM has issued a statement stipulating that mining operations will not be resumed until stability has been restored.

The closure will have a massive effect on the local and national economy.  RBM has a workforce of some 5 000 employees, is the largest tax paying company in KwaZulu-Natal Province and generates in excess of 8% of the GDP of South Africa.

The interruption of the export of titanium oxide slag is expected to lead to a reduction in the number of vessels calling at the Port of Richards Bay.