Vale treading water as Brazilian rains continue

A deluge of heavy rainfall in southeastern Brazil is having an impact on the iron ore industry in the region, with Vale being one of the miners to idle operational processes – and keep a keen eye on its dams.

The producer said 10 January that it has partially halted trains on the Estrada de Ferro Vitória a Minas railway (EFVM) and production in the southeastern and southern systems to guarantee safety of both its workers and community members due to the rainfall in Minas Gerais.

The EFVM was halted in Rio Piracicaba-João Monlevade stretch in the southeast system, restraining the expedition of production from the Brucutu and Mariana complexes. Production there was also halted. 

The Desembargador Drummond-Nova Era stretch was also stopped but is now in a resumption stage; the stoppage did not impact production at the Itabira complex.

“In the southern system, due to the interdiction on stretches of the BR-040 and MG-030 highways, the safety of employees/third parties’ transit and the mining fronts infrastructure, production at all the complexes is temporarily halted,” Vale officials confirmed. 

“Vale is taking all the necessary measures to resume activities, focusing on the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of employees and communities located nearby its structures.”

Finally, in the northern system, operations continue in line with the production plan; that plan takes into consideration seasonal impacts of the rainy season on all of its operations. Thus, Vale said, its production guidance of 320-335 million tonnes will hold steady for 2022.

According to reports from Bloomberg, the 40 tailings dams were on emergency level in December – 36 of which are in Minas Gerias. Three of that total, all Vale-owned, are at the highest alert of level 3.

Vale confirmed it is keeping a close eye on its infrastructure.

“Vale continues to monitor the rainfall scenario in Minas Gerais and monitor its dams 24 hours a day, in real-time, through the Geotechnical Monitoring Centers,” it said.

“It should be noted that there was no change in the emergency level in any of its structures, which are permanently monitored by inspections, maintenance, radar, robotic stations, video cameras and instruments such as manual and automatic piezometers.

Fellow iron ore miner Gerdau SA Cia Siderurgica Nacional SA and Usinas Siderurgicas de Minas Gerais SA also suspended operations in Minas Gerais as of late, according to the same Bloomberg report. Authorities have reportedly preventively evacuated people close to a hydroelectric dam in Para de Minas, which is in danger of an imminent failure.

Sources: Vale and Bloomberg

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