Brazil’s supreme court of justice has authorized local miner Valeto resume operations at its largest iron ore asset in Minas Gerais state, the 30Mt/y Brucutu complex.
In a release on Wednesday, Vale said that the decision will allow the full resumption of wet processing operations at Brucutu within 72 hours, thus increasing the average quality of Vale’s product portfolio.
“Vale reaffirms its 2019 iron ore and pellets sales guidance of 307-332 Mt, as per the previous announcement, and informs that its current sales volume will move towards the midpoint of the range,” it said.
On February 5, Vale declared force majeure on a number of its iron ore sales contracts as a result of a court order to suspend the Brucutu mine and Laranjeiras tailings dam following a request by the government.
The complex was halted following the tailings dam tragedy (pictured) at Vale’s Feijão iron ore operation in Brumadinho on January 25 that left over 200 people dead and others missing.
Brucutu was expected to resume operations soon, Vale CEO Eduardo Bartolomeu said on June 13. Some 10Mt from the mine are already being produced through dry processing technology, he added.
In another development, Vale confirmed on Tuesday that the company is mulling an expansion of the company’s flagship Carajás S11D mine to 150Mt from 100Mt as a way to boost iron ore supply to international customers.
With the move, Vale aims to target significant uncertainty over iron ore supply, as potential losses after the Brumadinho dam tragedy near 100Mt/y.
In a presentation, Bartolomeu said that Vale is considering building S11D’s associated 400km railroad and port infrastructure. The railroad will connect Carajás rail line EFC to a new port at Vila do Conde, debottlenecking the Ponta da Madeira port, where Vale ships ore from its major Carajás system. Both ports sit in northern Pará state.
Vale said earlier that its goal is to increase dry processing and reduce the use of tailings dams at the complex to gain operational and logistical flexibility in premium products and pellet feed production in Brazil.
With FMG already developing a new higher grade mine, and China’s building growth model increasingly strained, it’s fugly for iron ore into the early 2020s.