Vale’s Minas Gerais ops partially reopen after Brazil rains

After halting some of its mines in Brazil on a deluge of rainfall in the country that lead to potential hazards and logistics issues, Vale has confirmed the partial and gradual restart of work in Minas Gerais.

The miner said 17 January that it has re-established safety conditions, and thus resumed the Southeastern System, the trains transit on the Estrada de Ferro Vitória a Minas railway (EFVM) on the Rio Piracicaba – João Monlevade stretch.

This move will permit the stepped expedition of production at Brucutu and Mariana.

“Therefore, there is no longer Vale’s production sites halted in the System due to the rains,” it said.

The BH branch line, which handles general cargo transportation, is still halted. Logistic alternatives are being evaluated.

In the Southern System, some road accesses were cleared, though other alternative accesses were needed and implemented. This update can now allow for circulation of employees/third parties to the system’s mines.

“Several stretches of the MRS Logística had their train transit cleared and other stretches are expected to be cleared throughout the week,” Vale said. “Accordingly, the Abóboras, Vargem Grande, Fábrica and Viga plants, representing about half of the current capacity of the Southern System, were gradually resumed over the last days.”

It is now looking ahead to resuming work at other plants in the coming days, once appropriate operating conditions and normalization of train transit are re-established.

Vale said it does expect the rainy weather to have an impact on its bottom line, at least in part.

“Due to the stoppages in Minas Gerais, we estimate an impact of approximately 1.5 Mt on iron ore production and third-party purchase. Vale considers the seasonal impact of the rainy season in all operations, and therefore reiterates its iron ore production guidance of 320-335 Mt for 2022,” the miner said.

In regards to its dams, on which it noted previously it was maintaining a keen eye, it said continuous management and monitoring is continuing via its Geotechnical Monitoring Centers, Vale’s specialized teams and by the engineers of record.

It has reported changes in the safety conditions of two structures, both associated with the heavy rains that hit Minas Gerais. One is the Area IX dam, where there has been an elevation of the emergency protocol to level 2 from level 1, after piezometric alterations on the right abutment of the structure.

The structure there is currently inactive and is included in the decharacterization plan of Vale’s upstream structures.

At Elefante dike, it has initiated emergency protocol at level 1 after erosion on the right abutment of the structure, without compromising its overall stability. The sediment containment dike is also in the process of being decharacterized.

“The company has already initiated studies and corrective actions in both cases,” Vale said.

“There is no permanent occupation of people in the corresponding self-rescue zones and no additional evacuation is required.”


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