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Vale evaluating wet tailings alternatives at Brucutu

Mining & Resources / Tailings Storage Facilities

Vale evaluating wet tailings alternatives at Brucutu

Key points:

  • Vale is evaluating short-term alternatives to the wet processing of tailings at the Brucutu plant
  • The plant produces approximately 30 million tonnes of waste every year
  • If alternatives are not achieved by the end of the June quarter, there is a likely impact on 2020 fines production volume
  • Watch this FREE webinar to hear from the driving force behind the Global Tailings Portal about the Investor Mining and Tailings Safety Initiative

 

Vale says it is evaluating short-term alternatives to the wet processing of tailings at its Brucutu iron ore mine, in Brazil, as it looks to step up processing activities at the Minas Gerais operation.

The Brucutu plant, which used to dispose of tailings in the Norte/Laranjeiras dam – that has been at “emergency level 1” since December 2, 2019 – is continuing to operate at around 40% of its capacity through wet processing and tailings filtration, Vale noted.

Brucutu has an annual capacity of about 30 million tonnes but was beset by numerous suspensions last year, as the company faced increased scrutiny following its fatal dam collapse at Brumadinho in Minas Gerais in January 2019 which killed 270 people.

Yet, the miner said it was evaluating “short-term alternatives” for tailings disposal, such as the optimised use of the Sul dam. These options are being tested by geotechnical and operational teams and may increase Brucutu plant’s processing capacity to 80%, Vale said.

It said if the alternatives or dam reclassification were not achieved by the end of the June quarter, there would likely be an impact on 2020 fines production volume, which has been estimated at 340-355Mt.

However, the miner reiterated its priority was the safety of its employees and the communities downstream of its operations, as well as the safety of all its structures.

Vale said yesterday following the Engineer of Record’s assessment, it had received 78 positive stability condition declaration (DCEs); however, nine dams remained at emergency levels 2 and 3 requiring evacuation zones, and 18 structures had emergency level 1 ratings.

Vale took the decision to temporarily suspend the disposal of tailings at the Laranjeiras dam, part of the Brucutu iron ore mine, while assessing the dam’s geotechnical characteristics, back in December. During the shutdown, the dam will have the Level 1 emergency protocol adopted, Vale said. At that point, Vale put the suspension period at one-to-two months.

At the same time, the company reiterated its plans to continue to invest in dry stacking technologies to reduce its exposure to wet tailings dams.

 

Originally published by International Mining


What is the Investor Mining and Tailings Safety Initiative?

Just days after the Brumadinho dam collapse, a group of investors co-led by the Church of England (CoE) Pensions Board and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) announced the Investor Mining and Tailings Initiative, calling on 727 extractive mining companies to disclose information on their tailings facilities to form a global independent database.On the one year anniversary, the group launched the first public database on tailings storage facilities (TSF). Prior to that, there had been no central database detailing the location and quantity of tailings, and as a result, no clear indication on the number of tailings around the world.

 

What did this mean for the mining companies?

This presented mining companies with a massive challenge of assembling data-sets that were often large, complex and stored in several locations, or even lost with corporate knowledge loss. One company estimated that it took one person (per site), six weeks to collect and prepare the data.

 

How can companies prepare for the next round of reports?

Launching the public database was the first step in providing transparency. The CoE and UNEP remain highly motivated to deliver change in the safe management of tailings facilities across the world, and as such will be making more calls for disclosures, and for the reports to be updated regularly.

 

Decipher is hosting a webinar, The Investor Mining and Tailings Safety Initiative: What’s Next?

Hear from one of the driving forces behind the database and learn about:

  • The Mining and Tailings Safety Initiative (insights, key findings, what’s coming, and how to prepare for the next round of questions)
  • The upcoming global tailings standards
  • Best practices and recommendations
  • Available reporting and monitoring tools

Watch this FREE webinar

Tailings Storage Facilities - TSF - Mining - Decipher - DecipherGreen - Tailings management - tailings dam monitoring - tailings storage facility software - environmental obligations software


FAQ:

What is the Investor Mining and Tailings Safety Initiative?

Following the recent tailings dam failures, The Investor Mining and Tailings Safety Initiative was established by a group of institutional investors active in the extractive industries representing more than $13.1 trillion in assets under management. Governed through a Steering Committee chaired by the Church of England Pensions Board and the Swedish Council of Ethics of the AP Funds, the group has called upon 727 extractive mining companies to disclose information in relation to their tailings storage facilities to form an online database.

How many companies have disclosed information about their TSFs?

As of the 20th of December 2019, 46 per cent of companies contacted responded to the request. 40 of the top 50 mining companies have made disclosures which has resulted in information about thousands of individual tailings dams being made public on company websites. All 23 of 23 publicly owned companies that are members of the International Council on Mining & Metals (ICMM) responded and fully disclosed information about their TSFs.

How many tailings dams have had stability issues?

Company disclosures to investors have revealed that 10% (166 out of 1,635) of the tailings dams reported to have had stability issues in their history.

What tailings reporting and monitoring tools are available?

Tailings Storage Facilities - TSF - Mining - Decipher - DecipherGreen - Tailings management - tailings dam monitoring - tailings storage facility software - environmental obligations software - Church of England Tailings reports

Using Decipher, you can start to organise and store your tailings storage facility data in the one place, making it easier to prepare for the next round of Church of England reports:
– Easily visualise all of your sites and simply click on the dams to see all of the relevant data and reports
– Reduce confusion, human error, and inefficiencies in reporting by providing internal stakeholders with a central repository of data on your tailings facilities
– Access key data and information from multiple departments to take a holistic approach to your tailings reporting and monitoring
– Reduce the time spent and associated costs preparing reports by creating templates which extract relevant information in a particular format, such as the Church of England report
– Decipher is designed to be securely accessed by industry, regulators, designers and operators involved in the management of TSFs. Easily setup security access levels to ensure stakeholders only see information that is relevant to them, and apply business rules, approval layers and track changes to ensure data is correct
– A Single Sign-On (SSO) integration also ensures that users are managed more easily


Request a demo of Decipher’s TSF Monitoring & Reporting tool


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