Vale to Restart Samarco

On October 25, Vale’s Samarco Mineração S.A. received the Corrective Operation License (LOC) for its operating activities in the Germano Complex, located in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil, which is the last license needed to restart operations. The license was approved by the Mining Activities Chamber (CMI) of the State Council for Environmental Policy (COPAM).

Samarco is expected to restart its operations using new technologies for dry tailings stacking. The restart of iron ore extraction and beneficiation plants in Germano and the pelletization plant in the Ubu Complex, located in Anchieta, state of Espírito Santo, will take place after the implementation of a filtration system. Construction of that system is expected to take approximately 12 months. During this period, Samarco will continue its operational readiness activities, which include equipment maintenance. Following the implementation of the filtration process, and subject to shareholders approval, Samarco said it expects to restart its operations around the end of 2020.

Following changes to the environmental and regulatory frameworks for mining in Brazil in 2019, Samarco adjusted its mining and tailings disposal assumptions, including a reduction in the capacity of the Alegria Sul pit, so that tailings will be confined to the pit self-contained area, and a reduction in the capacity to store filtered tailings due to the classification of the Germano pit as a dam, which will now be decommissioned in accordance with the regulation.

Samarco expects to be able to restart operations through one concentrator and produce approximately 7-8 million tons per year, following the installation of the filtration technology. It is currently expected that a second concentrator could be restarted in approximately 6 years to reach a range of production of approximately 14-16 million t/y, and the restart of the third concentrator could happen in around 10 years after the issuance of the LOC, when Samarco expects to reach annual production volume in a range of approximately 22-24 million t/y.

The mine has been closed since a disastrous tailings dam failure in November 2015 killed 19 people, devastated surrounding communities, and polluted the Rio Doce, a major downstream river.

As featured in Womp 2019 Vol 11 -