Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe on Tuesday welcomed the announcement by global mining company Rio Tinto of the US$463 million, or R65 billion, investment in the expansion of its Richards Bay Minerals operation in South Africa.
On Monday, Rio Tinto announced that it had approved the next stage in the development of Richards Bay Minerals (RBM) through the construction of the Zulti South project, which is expected to sustain RBM’s current capacity and extend mine life.
RBM currently operates four mines in the Zulti North lease area, a mineral separation plant and smelting facility. It produces predominantly rutile, zircon, titania slag, and high purity iron.
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 TiO2 sales.
Mantashe said that the investment was an affirmation of South Africa’s attractiveness as an investment destination, adding that it confirmed South Africa’s stable and predictable policy and regulatory environment.
He highlighted that the announcement follows – among others – the recent US$400 million investment by Vedanta in Gamsberg in the Northern Cape.
“As we intensify efforts to grow South Africa, we welcome investment injections such as this one, which [bears] testament to our efforts at turning this sector and economy around, for the benefit of our people,” Mantashe said.
Rio Tinto chief executive J-S Jacques said Rio Tinto had a long history in South Africa, and that this investment underscored the company’s 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.
“The long-term fundamentals of the market remain strong, and production from Zulti South will commence in time to fill a widening supply gap, ensuring RBM’s position as a leader in the sector, and delivering strong returns to our shareholders.”
– African News Agency