Tag Archives: Minas Gerais

Vale given the go ahead to start Capanema iron ore construction

Vale says it has received the required licences to start construction of the Capanema iron ore project in Minas Gerais, Brazil.

The project involves the development of the Capanema mine, acquisiion of new equipment, implementation of a long-distance 2.4 km conveyor belt (TCLD, pictured) and adjustments in the Timbopeba stockyards. This is expected to amount to multi-year investments of $495 million.

With the start-up expected for the second half of 2023, the project will have a production capacity by natural moisture (without tailings generation) of 18 Mt/y and, in the first years, will bring a net addition of 14 Mt/y of capacity to Vale with the “expedition” through the Timbopeba site, Vale said.

The start of the construction works of Capanema marks another important step in productive capacity buffers creation, ensuring greater operational flexibility with low capital intensity, Vale said.

Vale has previously identified that Capanema could be one of its new operations to use “dry processing” techniques.

Phibion brings AMC tailings management approach to Brazil

Phibion has stepped up efforts to bring its accelerated mechanical consolidation (AMC) technology to Brazil, having recently opened an office in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais.

The Phibion Brasil Tecnologia e Inovação em Mineração Ltda office complements the company’s recent expansion into the Latin America market, it said.

Phibion explained the rationale for the move: “Recent catastrophic failures in associated tailings dams have highlighted the critical need for innovative and cost-effective technologies that can recover residual processing water from the tailings coupled with improvements in tailings density and strength.

“Remaining with conventional technology or trying to adopt cost-prohibitive technologies is not an option. Collectively, the mining industry, the regulators and the people of Brazil demand a new approach.”

Phibion thinks its AMC technology can help. AMC is a systematic and low energy tailings management approach that can reduce tailings volumes and deliver enhanced water recovery with the associated benefits of increased tailings density and strength, according to the company.

Phibion’s Global Business Development Manager, Marco Miranda, guides Phibion’s operation in Latin America and is now based out of the Belo Horizonte office.

Back in October, Phibion announced it was opening an office in Santiago, Chile, to service the rapidly growing mining and tailings management opportunities in Latin America.

Vale evaluating wet tailings processing alternatives at Brucutu iron ore mine

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.

Cat 7495 electric rope shovel on its way to Kinross Gold’s Paracatu mine

A Cat 7495 electric rope shovel originally built in 2012 is on its way to Kinross Gold’s Paracatu gold mine in Minas Gerais, Brazil.

Paracatu, an open-pit mine with ore processed in ball and SAG mills, is Brazil’s largest gold mine, according to Kinross. It achieved record annual production of 619,563 gold-equivalent ounces in 2019, surpassing its 2018 record.

Kinross started an asset optimisation program in 2018, which completed in late 2019 with the successful implementation of a grade control program that led to better characterisation of the orebody, an improved ability to predict and react to ore variability, and better mill efficiency with improvements in throughput and recovery, it said.

Cat said the shovel’s ballast box and revolving frame left Green Valley, Arizona, USA, last week on two heavy haul trucks – one pulling and one pushing the 120 t load. At 61 m long and 5 m wide, the load is being escorted by a team responsible for removing and replacing power lines, traffic signals and signage along the way, it said.

Late last year, Cat updated the AC electric drive system for Cat 7495 and 7495 HF electric rope shovels to, it said, deliver even greater reliability, improved maintenance access, enhanced safety and an expanded ability to perform at high altitudes and in extreme temperatures.

Back in 2018, Kinross welcomed its second Cat 7495 electric rope shovel to its Round Mountain mine, in Nevada, as part of its Phase W expansion plan.

Vale and BHP cleared for Samarco iron ore restart

Vale says its joint venture Samarco Mineração SA division has been given clearance to restart operating activities at its Germano Complex, in Minas Gerais, Brazil, some four years after a dam collapse shuttered the operation.

Vale said the division, owned 50:50 by it and BHP, had received the Corrective Operation License (LOC) for its operating activities in the complex, adding that the licence was approved by the Mining Activities Chamber (CMI) of the State Council for Environmental Policy (COPAM).

Following this authorisation, Samarco has now obtained all environmental licences required to restart its operations.

Samarco is due to restart its operations using dry stacking technologies that, Vale says, will reduce the risk of such an accident happening again.

“For this reason, the operational restart of iron ore extraction and beneficiation plants in Germano and the pelletisation plant in the Ubu Complex, located in Anchieta, state of Espírito Santo, will only occur after the implementation of a filtration system, which construction is expected to take around 12 months,” Vale said. During this period, Samarco will continue operational readiness activities including equipment maintenance.

Following the implementation of the filtration process, and subject to shareholder approval, Samarco currently expects to restart its operations around the end of 2020, Vale says.

With the filtration process, Samarco expects to be able to substantially dewater sand tailings, which represents 80% of total tailings by volume, and stack these filtered tailings safely. The remaining 20% of tailings will be deposited in Alegria Sul pit, a bedrock self-contained structure, to increase safety. Alegria Sul pit preparation works began in October 2018 and were concluded this month.

Following changes to the environmental and regulatory frameworks for mining in Brazil in 2019, Samarco adjusted its mining and tailings disposal assumptions, including a reduction in the capacity of the Alegria Sul pit, so tailings would be confined to the self-contained area. This also led to a reduction in the capacity to store filtered tailings due to the classification of the Germano pit as a dam, which will now be decommissioned in accordance with the regulation.

The above-mentioned changes to regulatory and tailings disposal assumptions materially impact the expected ramp up of Samarco operations given a range of factors, including but not limited to the completion of additional licensing processes and the development of additional tailings disposal sites, the company said.

Samarco expects to be able to restart operations through one concentrator and produce some 7-8 Mt/y following the installation of the filtration technology.

A second concentrator could be restarted in around six years to reach a range production of 14-16 Mt/y, while the restart of the third concentrator could happen in around 10 years after the issuance of the LOC, when Samarco expects to reach annual production volume in a range of approximately 22-24 Mt/y, it said.

Autonomous haul trucks coming to Vale’s Carajás iron ore mine

Vale says it is to start trialling autonomous haulage at its Carajás mine in Pará, Brazil, following a successful deployment at its Brucutu iron ore mine in Minas Gerais.

The company plans to run both autonomous and manned trucks at the operation, the world’s largest open-pit iron ore mine, it said.

Completion of the autonomous testing phase is planned to June 2020, when the autonomous vehicles begin to operate. The number of autonomous vehicles will increase year by year and, depending on the test results, may reach 37 in 2024.

This year, the company’s Brucutu iron ore mine began operating exclusively with autonomous haul trucks. Thirteen Caterpillar 240 ton (218 t) 793F CMD fully autonomous trucks, managed using the Cat autonomous haulage system, Command for hauling, part of its MineStar™ suite of technology products, are now running, after the company equipped seven trucks with this technology in 2018.

Combined with a staff development and training plan at Carajás, the autonomous innovation aims to increase the safety of operations, in addition to generating environmental benefits and a competitive edge, Vale said.

Two autonomous trucks are expected to start the testing phase in an isolated area of Carajás mine by the end of November, but training of the operators began in October. In addition to autonomous haulage, three autonomous drills started operating in the mine last year, Vale said.

Vale explained: “In an autonomous operation, trucks are controlled by computer systems, GPS, radar, and artificial intelligence, and monitored by operators in control rooms located miles away from the operations, providing more safety for the activity. When risks are detected, the equipment shuts down until the path is cleared. Sensors of the safety system can detect larger objects, such as large rocks and other trucks, as well as people near the roads.”

Compared with conventional transport, productivity of the autonomous operation system is higher, according to Vale. “Based on the technology market data, Vale expects to increase the useful life of equipment by 15%. Fuel consumption and maintenance costs are also estimated to be reduced by 10%, and the average speed for trucks will increase,” it said.

Autonomous operation also brings important environmental benefits. The reduced consumption of fuel by the machines results in a lower volume of CO2 and particulate matter emissions and less waste, such as parts, tyres and lubricants.

According to Antonio Padovezi, North Corridor Director for Vale, in addition to the safety factor, the use of autonomous equipment in Carajás will ensure greater sustainability for Brazilian mining. “It is another breakthrough with great economic, environmental, and social gains. It reduces employees’ exposure to risks, increases competitiveness, reduces emission of polluting gases and promotes professional training and development, following a natural trend experienced today in the market worldwide,” Padovezi said.

Implementation of the autonomous operation is combined with a staff development plan, which includes creation of a training centre in the city of Parauapebas by the supplying company. The plan is along the lines of Brucutu, where all conventional truck operators will be reassigned to other activities. At Brucutu, part of the team is managing and controlling the autonomous equipment while another part is taking on new “automation-related tasks”. Some employees have been reallocated to other areas.

Vale is deploying a digital transformation program as part of its Industry 4.0 developments.

This has allowed the company to increase productivity, operational efficiency, and safety, in addition to improving its financial performance and driving innovation, the company said.

Technological innovations developed by the company include the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, mobile applications, robotisation, and autonomous equipment (such as trucks and drills).

The program will also support the strategic pillars presented by Vale this year – improve the company’s operational approach to safety and operational excellence as well as bring a positive impact to society, becoming a development facilitator for the areas in which it operates while promoting a safer and more sustainable industry, Vale said.

New court order could lead to shutdown of Vale’s Brucutu iron ore mine

Vale says it has been made aware of a decision by the 22nd Civil Court of the Comarca of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, ordering the iron ore miner to stop using its Laranjeiras, Menezes II, Capitão do Mato, Dique B, Taquaras, Forquilha I, Forquilha II and Forquilha III dams.

The decision, which is within the scope of the public civil action no 5013909-51.2019.8.13.0024 filed by the Public Prosecution Office of the State of Minas Gerais, could see the company have to close the Brucutu mine (pictured) in its Minas Centrais complex, cutting some 30 Mt/y of iron ore supply.

The Brucutu unit is the largest iron mine of Minas Gerais in production, and the second largest in the country, only behind Carajás, in Pará, according to the company.

Among the dams included in the court order, three were built by the upstream method – Forquilha I, Forquilha II and Forquilha III – and were already inactive and covered by the accelerated decommissioning plan Vale previously announced to the market. The other structures, including the Laranjeiras dam at Brucutu, were built by the conventional method.

“These structures built by the conventional method have the sole purpose of sediment containment and not tailings disposal except in the case of the Laranjeiras dam,” Vale said. “All dams are duly licensed and have their respective stability reports in force. Vale therefore understands that there is no technical basis nor risk assessment to justify a decision to suspend the operation of any of these dams.”

Vale said it will adopt the “appropriate legal measures” in relation to this decision and reiterated that all the emergency measures necessary to assist the impacted people and to mitigate the impacts resulting from the breach of Dam I of the Córrego de Feijão mine are being duly adopted.

Vale currently has a fleet of Caterpillar 240 ton (218 t) 793F CMD fully autonomous trucks running at the Brucutu iron ore mine.