RIO DE JANEIRO – A Brazilian federal court on Thursday ordered the suspension of activities at Vale SA’s Port of Tubarão because of pollution concerns, halting the world’s largest iron ore exporter’s ability to ship more than a third of its output.
The ruling by the court in Vitoria was made as part of a police investigation at the giant man-made port as Vale comes under increasing pressure over its environmental record in Brazil after a dam burst at a mine run by its Samarco joint venture in October, killing at least 17 people.
The court order paralyzed imports and exports at one of the world’s most important iron ore terminals. Its docks loaded 82.5 million tonnes of iron ore destined for steelmakers around the world in the first nine months of 2015, Vale said.
Vale’s preferred shares, the company’s most traded class of stock, reversed early gains of nearly 5 percent to fall more than 1 percent after the closure was confirmed.
In addition to iron ore, Tubarão handles coal imports and steel exports for the Brazilian unit of ArcelorMittal SA, the world’s largest steelmaker.
Police have said activities at its iron ore dock and coal dock have resulted in iron ore and coal dust polluting the surrounding water and contributing to pollution in other areas, including nearby beaches.
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