Vale SA is testing short-term alternatives for tailings disposal from its Brucutu plant in Brazil's Minas Gerais state, which may increase its processing capacity to 80% from about 40%.
The Brucutu plant used to dispose tailings in the Norte/Laranjeiras dam, which is at emergency level 1, and the company's geotechnical and operational teams are looking into optimizing use of the Sul dam.
Vale noted that its 2020 annual iron ore fines production volume recently forecast at between 340 million tonnes and 355 Mt will likely be impacted if alternatives for tailings disposal or the reclassification of the emergency level for the Norte/Laranjeiras dam is not completed by the end of the second quarter.
The company said April 1 that nine of its dams, as of March 2020, have a negative stability condition at emergency levels 2 and 3, while eight new structures were placed at emergency level 1 this semester.
Compared to September 2019, six of the dams retained their emergency levels 2 or 3, while structures at the Capitao do Mato, Timbopeba and Gongo Soco iron ore mines increased to emergency level 2 from level 1.
Meanwhile, structures of Vale's ferrous minerals and base metals operational units in Brazil were issued 78 positive stability condition declarations, the company noted.
Vale is building three containment structures for dams at emergency level 3, including the one related to the Sul Superior dam already completed, with others expected to complete during the first semester of 2020.