The South African government has welcomed the announcement by global mining company Rio Tinto of a US$463 million investment into the country’s mining sector.
This investment is to go towards the expansion of its Richards Bay Minerals operation in the country, a senior minister has said.
“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,” Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe said on Tuesday, 9 April 2019.
Mantashe said the investment in KwaZulu-Natal Province 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.
Rio Tinto on Monday, 8 April 2019, announced its approval of the $463 million investment in the further development of its Richards Bay Minerals (RBM) operation in South Africa through the construction of the Zulti South project.
“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,” Rio Tinto Rio Tinto chief executive Jean-Sébastien Jacques said.
He said the investment would 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.
Construction is scheduled to start in mid-2019, subject to the granting of all necessary permits, with first commercial production expected in late 2021, according to Jacques, adding that Rio Tinto has a long history in South Africa.