Rio Tinto's SA mine disrupted by protest

Johannesburg - Production at Rio Tinto's titanium dioxide mine in South Africa has been disrupted by community protests such as road blocks, the global miner said on Tuesday, and it was unclear when output would resume.

The Richards Bay Minerals (RBM) operation, in which the global miner holds a 74 percent stake, is located in the eastern province of KwaZulu Natal and produces 1.05 million tonnes of titanium dioxide annually.

"Over the last few weeks RBM has faced a series of disruptions as a result of community protests and road blockages," the company said in a statement.

"After numerous engagements with relevant community structures, the situation remains volatile."

Rio's Iron & Titanium unit is the world's top producer of titanium-dioxide feedstock, cast iron, steel and metal powders from its operations in Canada, South Africa and Madagascar.

Titanium dioxide is mainly used to produce titanium pigment, the most commonly used white pigment. It is used to add capacity to paper, paints and plastics.

One out of four of the furnaces at RBM was idled due to lower demand for its products, a 2015 company report said.

A violent community protest in 2013 in Richards Bay cost the company more than R200m ($13m) in revenue, a report on the Rio Tinto website showed.

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