Samarco iron ore won’t restart this year – by Frik Els ( – June 16, 2016)

The Samarco iron ore mine in Brazil – a joint venture Vale (NYSE:VALE) and BHP Billiton (NYSE:BHP) – is unlikely to resume operations before the end of the year.

Samarco Mineracao ceased operations in November following a deadly tailings dam burst. Benedito Waldson, the company’s head of human resources told Reuters the uncertain timing of a new licence from the South American nation’s environment authorities to restart operations “had forced the company to move to lay off over 1,000 workers.”

At 30 million tonnes per year before the disaster Samarco’s pelletizing operations supplied roughly one-fifth of the seaborne trade in the steelmaking raw material that attracts a premium price over iron ore fines and lump ore. Earlier Samarco said that should the mine reopen output would likely be capped at 19 million tonnes per year.

The benchmark Chinese import price for iron ore fines held steady at $50.20 on Thursday, up more than 35% from a near-decade low struck in December.

A Brazilian judge on Tuesday dismissed a civil lawsuit brought by the National Humanitarian Society in December seeking environmental and property damages amounting to billion reais (roughly $5.8 billion) against Samarco, in which Vale and BHP each own 50%.

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