BHP, Vale cleared to resume Samarco operations

Image: Samarco

Samarco joint venture partners BHP and Vale have received a licence to continue iron ore operations in the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil.

This licence, which was approved by Minas Gerais’ Mining Activities Chamber of the State Council for Environmental Policy, comes four years after the tailings dam burst in November 2015.

The Samarco Mineração JV has now obtained all environmental licenses required to restart operations.

Samarco will initially produce around seven to eight million tonnes a year, before reaching a capacity of around 14–16 million tonnes within another six years.

The JV anticipates reaching annual production volume in the range of 22–24 million tonnes within around 10 years of the license issuance. Samarco expects to restart its operations around the end of 2020.

“With the approval of the LOC application, Samarco is authorised to restart operations, but first we want to adopt new filtration technologies that will increase safety, a key principle that guides our work for Samarco’s recovery and operations,” Samarco chief executive Rodrigo Vilela said.

The JV plans to implement new technologies for dry tailings stacking, including a filtration system. The construction of the filtration plant is expected to take around 12 months from the licence approval.

When this is completed, Samarco would then restart its iron ore extraction and beneficiation plants in Germano and the pelletising plant in the Ubu Complex in Anchieta in the state of Espírito Santo.

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