Rio Tinto on Monday announced its approval of $463 million for investment in the further development of its Richards Bay Minerals (RBM) operation in South Africa through the construction of the Zulti South project.
The company said the investment will sustain RBM’s current capacity and extend its mine life.
RBM currently operates four mines in the Zulti North lease area, a mineral separation plant and smelting facility. The Zulti North orebody grade is declining, hence the Zulti South mine is required to maintain the output of high-margin zircon and rutile, and provide sufficient ore to support titanium dioxide (TiO2) sales.
The Zulti South mine (Phase 1) will prop-up RBM’s supply of zircon and ilmenite over the life of the mine. Construction is scheduled to start in mid-2019, subject to the granting of all necessary permits, with first commercial production expected in late 2021.
Rio Tinto chief executive, Jean-Sébastien Jacques, said the company has a long history in South Africa.
“The investment underscores our commitment for the coming decades and beyond. Zulti South is one of the best undeveloped minerals sand deposits in the industry, and will significantly extend RBM’s position as a world-class, first-quartile asset,” he said.
On behalf of his government, South Africa’s Mineral Resources Minister, Gwede Mantashe, has welcomed the announcement by global mining company, Rio Tinto, of the US$463 million investment in the expansion of its Richards Bay Minerals operation in South Africa.
“As we intensify efforts to grow South Africa, we welcome investment injections such as this one, which bear testament to our efforts at turning this sector and economy around, for the benefit of our people,” said Mantashe on Tuesday.
Mantashe said the investment in KwaZulu-Natal is an affirmation of South Africa’s attractiveness as an investment destination, while also confirming South Africa’s stable and predictable policy and regulatory environment.