Vale could withdraw use of Brazilian tailings dams

Vale plans to invest up to $US100 million ($157.66 million) in a Brazilian technology that will reduce the use of tailings dams.

The technology is known as fines dry magnetic separation and will be developed by New Steel, a company Vale acquired in 2018.

Vale intends to install the plant in Minas Gerais, which will be developed to a capacity of 1.5 million tonnes a year.

The first units to use the technique will be Vargem Grande complex in Nova Lima; the Pico, Cauê and Conceição mines in Itabira; and the Brucutu mine in São Gonçalo do Rio Abaixo.

“In Minas Gerais operations, all the units that could be converted to dry processing production are already in operation,” Vale director of Ferrous Metals Value chain, Vagner Loyola said.

“Then, we are using tailings filtering and stacking as well as the dry concentration technology from New Steel to reduce the use of dams.”

By 2024, Vale estimates that 70 per cent of production will come from dry or natural moisture processing , without adding water to the process or using tailings dams.

The news was released prior to Vale reporting that there were movements in the northern slope of the Gongo Soco mine pit in Barão de Cocais.

Vale proceeded to evaluate its impacts on the Sul Superior dam, which is located around 1.5 kilometres from the slope area.

Company employees also continued to monitor the pit and the dam remotely 24 hours a day using radar and a robotic station capable of detecting millimetric movements.

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