Brazilian miner Vale has created a company to sell and distribute iron ore tailings sand as it pushes to reduce material disposals from dams and piles.
The new sand company, Agera, is a spin-off from part of Vale and expects to sell 1 million metric tons of sand this year and generate revenue of US$3.57 million (18 million reais), according to a Reuters report that attributed Vale executives.
While the company had about 47 million tons of tailings in 2022 from its operations, it said it hopes Agera will help its output grow going forward.
“Vale has been looking to give its waste a more sustainable destination since 2014. It has been a matter of research for a long time,” Vale general manager for new businesses Tatiana Teixeira told Reuters.
“The goal is to boost circular mining and reduce our dependence on structures for the disposal of tailings.”
Vale’s mission is to fully eliminate its upstream tailing dams. It has been selling sand obtained from tailings since 2021. Agera expects sales to reach 2.1 million tons in 2024 and 3 million in 2025, according to the new firm’s chief executive Fabio Cerqueira. That would bring revenue to 63 million reais in 2023.
The miner has been involved in two tailings dam collapses in Brazil over the last several years; both deaths and serious environmental damage occurred in both. Vale has since been searching for ways to reduce its reliance on such structures, the report noted.