Tag Archives: Vargem Grande

Vale’s Vargem Grande iron ore complex slowly coming back to life

Vale says Brazil’s National Mining Agency (Agência Nacional de Mineração – ANM) has authorised the partial resumption of dry processing operations at the Vargem Grande Complex in Minas Gerais.

The Vargem complex is comprised of three operating mines — Capitão do Mato, Tamanduá and Abóboras — and produces a mixture of fines, lump and concentrate products for the seaborne export market and the Vargem Grande pellet plant.

Vale said all operations of the complex were suspended by ANM on February 20, to prevent “occasional triggers” that could affect tailings dam stability as a result of ongoing activities at the complex.

Vargem was one of several operations that were suspended after one of Vale’s tailings dams ruptured at its Córrego do Feijão mine (Paraopeba complex) on January 25, 2019.

The decision will enable the partial resumption of dry processing operations at the complex within 24 hours, totalling about 5 Mt of additional production in 2019, thus increasing the supply of Brazilian Blend Fines, Vale said.

The Brazil-based miner reaffirmed its 2019 iron ore and pellets sales guidance of 307-332 Mt, as per previous announcements.

Vale looks to decommission upstream tailings dams following Brumadinho breach

Vale says it has presented to the Brazilian authorities a plan to decommission all its dams built by the upstream method.

The plan aims to “de-characterise” these structures as tailings dams in order to reintegrate them into the environment, the miner said.

The move by the miner comes less than a week after reporting a breach to the tailings dam at the Feijão mine in Brumadinho, Brazil, which saw water dispersed more than 63 km from the point of breach. As at 18:00 (Brazil time) on January 27, Vale said 361 displaced people had been found, 305 people were missing and 16 fatalities were confirmed by the Instituto Médico Legal.

Vale currently has 10 dams built by the upstream method, all of which are currently inactive. All of Vale’s dams present stability reports issued by external, independent and internationally respected companies, the company said.

The miner estimates investments of around BRL5 billion ($1.3 billion) will be necessary to decommission its upstream dams and the decommissioning process will occur over the next three years.

In order to carry out the decommissioning of the upstream dams safely and quickly, Vale will temporarily halt the production of the units where the structures are located, namely: Abóboras, Vargem Grande, Capitão do Mato and Tamanduá operations, in the Vargem Grande complex; and the Jangada, Fábrica, Segredo, João Pereira and Alto Bandeira operations, in the Paraopeba complex, also including the stoppage of the Fábrica and Vargem Grande pelletising plants.

“The operation of the halted units will be resumed as the decommissioning works are completed,” it said.

The estimated impact of the production stoppage is about 40 Mt/y of iron ore. Included in this figure is the pellet feed needed for the production of 11 Mt of pellets, an impact that will be offset by the increase in production of other systems of the company, Vale said.

Vale’s 2018 iron ore production is expected to come in at 390-400 Mt, alongside 55 Mt of iron ore pellets.

The miner added that it expected to reallocate all its collaborators currently located in the operations that will be halted.

Photo caption: Vale CEO Fabio Schvartsman flies over the Brumadinho site