The complex, which comprises a mine, plant, railroad and port logistics, is expected to help the company to consolidate its position as the mining company with the lowest cost production.

Vale CEO Murilo Ferreira said: “More than an enterprise embodying the latest technology, low cost and high productivity, the S11D portrays Vale’s ability to make things happen.

“We have accepted the challenge to implement one of the largest iron ore mining operations in the world, even faced by uncertainties in the external scenario.”

Of the total investment, $6.4bn is used for the mine and plant, while the remaining $7.9bn is used in building a 101km railway branch line, double-tracking the Carajás Railway and expanding Ponta da Madeira Maritime Terminal in São Luís.

The S11D project comprises development of the iron ore mine and processing plant with three production lines each with a capacity to process 30 million metric tons per annum.

Vale will employ open-pit mining strategy to extract iron ore. Recovered ore will be transported to the plant through Long-Distance Conveyor Belt Conveyor.

The firm expects the mine to reach full production capacity of 90 million tons per year (Mtpa) in 2020, adding a 75 Mtpa capacity to the Northern System, which comprises the mines in the Carajás Complex and Serra Leste.

In 2020, it is expected to offer 230 Mtpa, contributing to Vale’s estimated annual production between 400 and 450 Mtpa in four years, compared to 340 to 350 Mtpa forecast for 2016.

The S11 project is divided into four parts, A, B, C and D. It hosts the potentiality of 10 billion tons of iron ore, with blocks C and D together containing around 4.24 billion metric tons.

Image: The S11D mine in Brazil. Photo: courtesy of Vale.