Vale (NYSE: VALE) has gradually started operations at a waste filtering plant in the Vargem Grande complex, the first of four the company plans to install at sites in Minas Gerais, Brazil, at a cost of $2.3 billion between 2020 and 2024.
In the filtration process, the existing water in the iron ore tailings is minimized, allowing most of the material to be stacked in a solid-state, thus reducing dependence on dams.
Vale says the start-up of tailings’ filtration operations in Vargem Grande is another step in stabilising iron-ore production on the way to resuming 400 million tonnes per year production capacity by the end of 2022.
In 2018, before the Brumadinho dam collapse, Vale produced 385 million tonnes.
Vale expects to start-up the first filtration plant in the Itabira Complex this year. Throughout 2022, the second filtration plant at the Itabira Complex and the first at the Brucutu site will start operating, the company said. The four tailings filtration plants will serve beneficiation plants that have a total capacity to process 64 Mtpy of iron ore.