HomeSouthern AfricaRio Tinto declares Force Majeure at Richards Bay Minerals

Rio Tinto declares Force Majeure at Richards Bay Minerals


Following the tragic death of our colleague, Nico Swart, RBM has faced serious challenges in recent weeks, with business disruptions orchestrated by criminals which have put its people at risk and resulted in the costly destruction and theft of property. This follows in the footsteps of previous violent incidents.

Richards Bay Minerals’ Nico Swart killed in hail of bullets

As a result of the recent deterioration in the security situation, Rio Tinto has taken the decision to declare Force Majeure at Richards Bay Minerals (RBM). Unfortunately, the ongoing acts of crime and violence do not only hurt RBM; they have a negative impact on the community and local businesses as well as partnerships that also support and uplift our communities.

In 2020, RBM’s direct economic contribution to the country was R8 billion. This includes salaries and wages for more than 5 000 employees, as well as mining royalties and taxes paid to local and national governments, which help to provide essential services and critical infrastructure such as roads, bridges, hospitals and schools. In this same year, as part of its Social and Labour Plans, local communities benefited from projects valued at over R43 million.

In addition, RBM procured goods and services to the value of R5.5 billion in 2020, of which R1.5 billion was spent on local municipal businesses and over R500 million in its communities, expanding business opportunities, bolstering economic development, and helping local communities become more resilient and self-reliant over the longer term.

“While we work hard to make a lasting positive contribution to the areas in which we operate, the safety of our employees, contractors and communities remains our topmost priority and, therefore, we have taken the difficult decision to cease all activities at our operation,” says Werner Duvenhage, Managing Director, Richards Bay Minerals.

While Rio Tinto and RBM endeavour to reduce the impact of the Force Majeure declaration on their global customers, there is recognition that much of this can only be managed through the continued assistance of external stakeholders and partners.

Duvenhage continues, “RBM is focused on restoring safe operations as soon as possible, and is engaging with all relevant stakeholders in that regard. We are grateful for the support of national and provincial government, the South African Police Service, organised labour and our communities. It is vital that those responsible for the recent acts of criminality are identified and brought to book and to that end, we hope to continue working together with our stakeholders to solve our common problems.”