Brazilian miner Vale has set up a tailings processing plant at the dam corresponding to its Pico iron ore mine to reduce waste and create construction products.
According to media reports, the plant began operations on Nov 17 and will process about 30,000mt of iron ore tailings per year to pre-molded cement products including structural concrete blocks, plates, flooring, and sealing blocks.
The company will invest $4.6mn in the research and development of the Pico project, during the first two years of its operations. The Pico mine is part of Vale’s Itabira Complex, consisting of several iron ore mines in Brazil’s Minas Gerais region, which together produced 11.2mn mt of iron ore concentrate in 2019.
This pilot project aims to recycle tailings in a profitable manner to reduce iron ore mining waste, which has caused many judicial issues for the miner since the Brumadinho tailings dam incident, which killed about 259 people and left several injured in January 2019. Vale is still fighting a court battle with the Brazilian government on the issue.