Vale (NYSE: VALE) has launched in Minas Gerais, Brazil, a pilot plant with magnetic concentration of low-grade iron ore, without using water.
The Brazilian technology, known as FDMS (Fines Dry Magnetic Separation), is unique in the world and was developed by New Steel, a company purchased by Vale in late 2018.
The pilot plant, which cost $3 million, is the first step towards the construction of an industrial plant, which will have a production capacity of 1.5 million tons per year, according to Vale.
The miner plans to invest $100 million in the project and the start-up of the commercial plant is scheduled for 2022.
Vale estimates that, in 2024, 1% of its production will be done through the use of technology, which already has a recognized patent in 59 countries.
“NS-03 is a semi-industrial plant that aims to carry out tests on a pilot scale with different ores, allowing the definition of operational parameters for commercial scale projects,” said president of New Steel, Ivan Montenegro.
Installed at Vale’s Ferrous Technology Center in Nova Lima, the pilot plant is the second to start operating. Between 2015 and 2017, a unit operated at the Fábrica mine in Minas Gerais.
The new test plant will be able to concentrate 30 tonnes per hour of dry ore, using magnetic separation technology, using rare earth magnets.
“New Steel puts Vale at the forefront of investments in ore processing technology. We will continue to look for solutions that increase the security of our operations,” says Vale’s executive director of Ferrous Metal, Marcello Spinelli.
Vale estimates that, in 2024, 70% of production will benefit from dry or natural humidity, without adding water in the beneficiation process and without using tailings dams.