Brazilian iron ore mining giant Vale, through its tech subsidiary New Steel, signed a protocol of intent with southeast state Minas Gerais to invest 4.4bn reais (US$795mn) in technology that eliminates the need for tailings dams.
The funds will be used to implement an innovative dry iron ore processing technology that drastically reduces the environmental impact and extends the life of mines, the state government said in a release. The process also will also create jobs and more revenue for three municipalities, it added.
The ore concentration technology will be applied at three Vale plants: at the Fábrica mines in Congonhas municipality; at Fazendão in Mariana; and at Vargem Grande in Itabirito, which has already begun implementation and the system should start operating in 2024. The other two are likely to start up by 2026.
“Firstly, this method makes it possible to use materials with a low concentration of iron, which is not viable in the conventional process. The new technology also uses virtually no water. In it, the tailings are dry at the end of the process and deposited in piles, dispensing with the use of dams,” Henrique Hauck, New Steel engineering manager, said in the statement.
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