Samarco iron ore mine could reopen this year

October 2017, Manoel Lino Mol Square in Barra Longa near the Samarco mine. Image: BHP

The Samarco iron ore mine in Brazil is likely to resume operations before the end of the year or early 2019 Vale (NYSE:VALE) executives told investors on Wednesday.

Samarco Mineracao – a Vale-BHP joint venture – ceased operations in November 2015 following a deadly tailings dam burst.

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 disaster in Brazil’s Minas Gerais state that killed 19 people caused sludge to wash downstream in the river Doce into neighbouring state Espírito Santo through remote mountain valleys reaching the Atlantic ocean 600 kilometres away.

The benchmark Chinese import price for iron ore fines traded at $78.90 on Wednesday, up more than 8% year-to-date.

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