Mining giant halts work at violence-plagued South Africa facility | DW News



An escalation in community violence has forced global mining giant Rio Tinto to suspend operations at one of its mines in South Africa.
The company closed its Richard’s Bay Minerals operation in KwaZulu-Natal after a senior executive was killed and millions of Rands worth of equipment was destroyed. Many say the mine has ruined their livelihoods.
The mining and resources giant Rio Tinto closed its Richard’s Bay Minerals operation in KwaZulu-Natal following ongoing violence in which a senior executive was assassinated and millions of Rands worth of equipment was destroyed.
Police are investigating the murder and the vandalism, they’ve not yet made any arrests. Security has been beefed up around the mine, but the company has halted its operations until the situation improves.
Richard Bay Minerals mines and exports titanium dioxide slag which is used in products like paint, plastics and toothpaste. It’s the biggest taxpayer in the province and employs about 5000 people.
But the people in Sokhulu are demanding change. They say they have a mine in their backyard – but don’t see any benefits from it.
The Sokhulu community says graves were cleared to make way for the mine’s activities. They say when the mine discovers remains they dispose of them. They say that not only is that disrespectful but it also doesn’t afford them of the opportunity to perform the cultural rituals that are necessary when someone is moved from one resting place to another.
Sokhulu is one of four communities surrounding the mine. Young people there say they get passed over when the mine gives jobs to outsiders. For now, the mine is idle. Without a clear social and labor plan, it looks like the longer it goes on, the harder life will get.
DW’s Christine Mhundwa reports from South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal Province.

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