Rio Tinto has announced that its operations at the mineral sands mine in South Africa will be halted and activity in Quebec, Canada, will slow down due to government directives in both countries to contain the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19).

The miner noted that production at its Richards Bay Minerals in South Africa will be halted for 21 days from 26 March, in line with a nationwide lockdown as the number of infected cases sharply rose.

Rio Tinto also said there would be a delay in restart of the construction of the Zulti South project.

In Canada, Rio Tinto is cooperating with the Quebec Government’s directive to reduce business activity after the province tightened restrictions, including ordering the closure of all non-essential businesses.

The company noted that any impacts to operations or production guidance will be soon reported to the market.

Rio Tinto CEO J-S Jacques said: “The health and safety of our people is Rio Tinto’s key priority and we are supportive of the action being taken by various governments to address the threat of Covid-19.

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By GlobalData

“We will continue to work with our employees, customers, communities and suppliers to minimise any impact of action being taken to reduce the spread of Covid-19.”

Last week, Rio Tinto temporarily halted operations at its Kennecott copper mine in Utah, US, due to a magnitude 5.7 earthquake close to the town of Magna.

In the same week, measures put in place by Mongolian authorities to contain the spread of the Covid-19 outbreak have restricted operations at the company’s Oyu Tolgoi mine, causing a slowdown in production.

Last month, Rio Tinto said it was facing a slowdown in copper concentrate shipments from Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine as efforts to contain the Covid-19 outbreak affected the company’s product flows to China.

Meanwhile, global deaths from Covid-19 have reached 15,340 while the confirmed cases stand at 351,377. About 100,524 are reported to have recovered from the virus.