The tailings filtration plant will reduce the miner’s dependence on dams

mining-856022_640 (1)

Vale has commissioned a tailings filtration plant at its Vargem Grande iron ore complex. (Credit: Bishnu Sarangi from Pixabay)

Vale has started the operation of the tailings filtration plant at the Vargem Grande Complex in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais.

The facility is the first of four filtration plants to be operated in the company’s sites in the state. Vale said that it will invest a total of $2.3bn between 2020 and 2024 in the plants.

According to the Brazilian miner, the tailings filtration plant will cut down its dependence on dams. Besides, its commissioning will facilitate an improvement in the average quality of the company’s product portfolio by using wet processing on the site, said the company.

Vale claimed that the existing water in the iron ore tailings is minimised in the filtration process. This enables most of the material to be stacked in a solid form, thereby reducing the use of dams.

The company stated: “The start-up of tailings’ filtration operations in Vargem Grande is another step in stabilising iron ore production and on the way to resume the 400 Mtpy production capacity by the end of 2022.”

The Brazilian miner anticipates commissioning the first filtration plant in the Itabira Complex this year.

In the next year, the miner expects to begin operations at the second filtration plant at the Itabira Complex and at the first filtration plant at the Brucutu site.

The company said that the four tailings filtration plants in Minas Gerais will cater to beneficiation plants that have a total processing capacity of 64 metric tonnes per annum (Mtpa) of iron ore.

Vale expects to add 4Mtpa of production capacity during the third quarter of this year. The company is also set to commission the Maravilhas III dam, with its construction in the final stage.

Earlier this month, Vale began a commissioning process at the Timbopeba site in the Mariana Complex in Minas Gerais to ramp up wet processing production.

After the end of the two-month commissioning process, the Timbopeba site will have an iron ore production capacity of 12Mtpa with an additional 7Mtpa added to its current capacity.