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Rio Tinto halts operations at South African unit as violence rises

FILE PHOTO: A sign adorns the building where mining company Rio Tinto has their office in Perth, Western Australia

(Reuters) - Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto Ltd <RIO.AX> on Wednesday said it would curtail operations at its South-African unit Richards Bay Minerals (RBM) due to an escalation in violence in surrounding communities.

"There has been an escalation of criminal activity towards RBM employees and one was shot and seriously injured in the last few days," Rio said in a statement.

The company said all mining operations have been halted and the smelters are operating at a reduced level, with a minimum number of employees now on site.

(This story corrects acronym to 'RBM' from 'RMB' in paragraph one)

(Reporting by Niyati Shetty in Bengaluru; Editing by Chris Reese)