Samarco due to restart by year’s end

The Samarco Mineracao iron ore mine in Brazil expects to restart in the fourth quarter this year, following the disastrous tailings dam collapse in November last year which resulted in the deaths of 19 people.

Samarco chief executive Roberto Carvalho said production would most likely be set at a reduced rate of 19 million tonnes of iron ore pellet per annum, compared to the pre-collapse average of 30 million tonnes per year.

"All our focus is turning to the restart," Carvalho said.

"We have talked to our clients, they have given us all the help possible and are awaiting the return of Samarco."

The reduced production will run for two to three years to allow for long-term planning for the tailings waste storage.

Samarco’s production prior to the disaster represented 20 per cent of the world’s annual supply of iron ore pellet.

Carvalho said the restart was not expected to be expensive.

"There's nothing complicated that needs to be installed," he said.

Samarco recently reached settlement with the Brazilian government for a payment plan which will see a minimum of $US1.7 billion spent over six years on a program of reparations and environmental clean up.

The original suit against Samarco included a claim for $US5.1 billion worth of damages.

Joint venture owners BHP and Vale will be held liable for any shortfall in payment by Samarco, however it is expected the mine will have the capacity to cover the debt.

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