Vale says it is evaluating short-term alternatives to the wet processing of tailings at its Brucutu iron ore mine, in Brazil, as it looks to step up processing activities at the Minas Gerais operation.
The Brucutu plant, which used to dispose of tailings in the Norte/Laranjeiras dam – that has been at “emergency level 1” since December 2, 2019 – is continuing to operate at around 40% of its capacity through wet processing and tailings filtration, Vale noted.
Yet, the miner said it was evaluating “short-term alternatives” for tailings disposal, such as the optimised use of the Sul dam. These options are being tested by geotechnical and operational teams and may increase Brucutu plant’s processing capacity to 80%, Vale noted.
It warned that, if such alternatives for tailings disposal or the reclassification of the emergency level for Norte/Laranjeiras dam are not achieved until the end of the June quarter, there will “likely be an impact on the 2020 annual iron ore fines production volume”.
Vale took the decision to temporarily suspend the disposal of tailings at the Laranjeiras dam, part of the Brucutu iron ore mine, while assessing the dam’s geotechnical characteristics, back in December. During the shutdown, the dam will have the Level 1 emergency protocol adopted, Vale said. At that point, Vale put the suspension period at one-to-two months.
At the same time, the company reiterated its plans to continue to invest in dry stacking technologies to reduce its exposure to wet tailings dams.