The Exxaro mineral
sands project
 
Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 30 August 2010 – The strike at the Rio Tinto-BHP Billiton titanium joint venture in KwaZulu Natal has shut down its operations, while a wage strike at the Exxaro mineral sands unit has entered its second week with no talks in sight.

Revealing this here, National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said the union would decide by Wednesday whether or not to expand the two strikes to the companies’ operations nationwide.

“We still have a 100% closure,” Seshoka told Reuters, referring to the Richards Bay Minerals (RBM) operations jointly held by Rio Tinto and BHP. “There is no date for any talks. The strike will continue,” he added.

Richards Bay Minerals general manager for human resources Bheki Gumbi dismissed the news of a total shutdown and said some units were still operating. “We are carrying on with some of the production areas,” Gumbi said, but declined to give any details.

The strike at the Rio-BHP joint venture, which has a nominal titanium slag capacity of 1.06Mtpa, began on Friday. Gumbi said the union had a total of 586 members at the operation, while NUM claims to represent 1 700 workers at RBM.

The NUM, which also launched a strike at diversified miner Exxaro’s mineral sands unit early last week, said it would soon decide on whether to expand both strikes. “A decision might be taken between tomorrow and Wednesday as to when a national strike at the companies begins,” Seshoka said.