Vale to sell sand from Brazilian iron ore tailings – by Len Gillis (Northern Ontario Business – October 24, 2023)

International miners creates spinoff company to market treated tailings as ‘sustainable sand’ for construction, road projects

Vale SA, the international parent company of Vale Canada, has had difficulty with the safety of some of its tailings dams, said it has created a new company to sell and distribute sand from its iron ore tailings properties.

Two dams operated by Vale SA failed in recent years, leaving hundreds of miners and civilians dead and creating significant environmental damage. Vale said the new company, named Agera, will be based in the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil and is planned to develop and expand what Vale calls the Sustainable Sand business.

The commercial quality sand is to be produced from the treatment of tailings generated by Vale’s iron ore operations in the state and promotes its commercialization and distribution. The new company will also invest in research and development (R&D) of new solutions for the product, said a Vale news release.

Sustainable sand began to be produced by Vale in 2021 after seven years of research, as a substitute for sand extracted from the environment, said the release. Since then, around 900,000 tons of the product have already been sent to the construction sector and road paving projects. The expectation is to sell a million tons this year and 2.1 million by 2024, said the company.

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