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Vale weighs plan to increase capacity at Carajas Serra Sul
Neil Hume in London YESTERDAY
Vale, the world’s biggest producer of iron ore, is weighing plans to expand the output from
its Carajas Serra Sul complex in the Amazon rainforest, as the Brazilian miner seeks to move
away from operations that use tailings dams.
The Rio de Janeiro-based company is reeling from a deadly dam breach at one of its mines
earlier this year that is likely to have killed more than 230 people.
It has been forced to curtail production at several operations in Brazil by regulators. Some of
these mines producer large amounts of wet tailings, or waste material, that are stored in huge
earth dams.
Vale’s new chief executive Eduardo Bartolomeo told investors at a conference in Barcelona on
Tuesday it was considering increasing output of Carajas Serra Sul, which includes its giant S11D
mine, to 150m tonnes after 2020 to “increase our strength in dry processing and reduce of the
use of tailings dams.”
Higher production at Carajas Serra Sul would also offset production cuts in the southeastern
state of Minas Gerais, where operations at a number of mines is suspended.
S11D is the highest grade iron ore mine in the world, which allows Vale to use a water-free
processing technology to screen and sift the ore before it is placed in giant stockpiles.
This means it does not need a tailings dam to store waste material, and will probably be looked
upon more favourably by regulators in the future.
Vale had previously said it would increase production at S11D to 100m tonnes by 2022.
Analysts says the tragedy at Vale’s Córrego do Feijão mine has underlined the need to move
away from operations that produce high volumes of wet tailings.
The disaster has made some investors wary of owning mining shares and they are demanding
companies provide detailed information on every tailings facility under their control.
Vale is already decommissioning all of the dams built according to the upstream construction
method — the same design used at Córrego do Feijão.
Vale said last week it will take two to three years to reach the annual output target of 400m
tonnes it had originally set for 2019.

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