Rio Tinto Southern Rhodesia Ltd

Rio Tinto Southern Rhodesia Ltd


Rio Tinto Southern Rhodesia Ltd was incorporated on 29th August, 1956. It was set up initially to develop and mine the Empress Nickel deposit in Gatooma and was the first mining operation to be set up outside Europe by Rio Tinto plc in March, 1957. By 1959 it acquired the Cam and Motor Mines at Eiffel Flats.

From 1965-1979, Rio Tinto (Rhodesia) Ltd detached itself from the parent company, grew into the single largest money earner and sanctions-buster, exporting millions of pounds worth of nickel, emeralds and tin, as well as becoming one of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia’s most successful manufacturers.

In September 1968, Rio Tinto (Rhodesia) Ltd closed the Cam Mine and established the Empress Nickel Mine. By 1969, the Rio Industries was established and in 1975 the Renco Mine was purchased. Renco mine was eventually opened in 1982 and the Empress Mine closed.

Rio Tinto Zimbabwe Ltd separated from Rio Tinto plc in 2004 and became the wholly owned Zimbabwean company (RioZim Ltd) that produced gold, coal, toll refines nickel and copper. Rio Tinto exited Zimbabwe in 2015.


  • James Gavin