BHP and Vale’s Samarco licensed to restart operations

The Germano complex. Image from Samarco.

Samarco Mineração, a joint venture between Vale and BHP received on Friday its Corrective Operation License (LOC) for its operating activities in the Germano Complex, located in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. 

The license was approved by the Mining Activities Chamber (CMI) of the State Council for Environmental Policy (COPAM). Samarco has now obtained all environmental licenses required to restart its operations.

The news comes four years after a tailings dam burst at Germano in November 2015, killing 19. A torrent of mud and debris was unleashed, polluting local rivers and reaching the Atlantic ocean. The incident has been called the worst environmental disaster in Brazil’s history.

Vale has previously said that it expected production at the joint venture, which is trying to restructure $3.8 billion in debt it defaulted on about a year after the accident, to resume in the second half of 2020.

The mine, which once produced nearly 25 million tonnes of iron ore a year, will restart at an annual rate of less than a third of that, Vale said, with a potential increase to 14 to 16 million within another six years.

(With files from Reuters)