Vale sees Samarco resuming ops by mid-2017

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Brazilian miner Vale expects pellet maker Samarco to obtain, by around the middle of next year, the licenses it needs to resume operations.

Clóvis Torres, Vale's executive officer for human resources and sustainability, said it was an achievable goal, local paper Valor Econômico reported.

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Samarco is a JV between Vale and Australia's BHP Billiton.

Torres said the two controllers were working to restart production at the Minas Gerais state mine as soon as possible.

Samarco's licenses were revoked after the collapse of the company's Fundão tailings dam in November. Minas Gerais state environmental authorities must decide whether to grant the firm new licenses.

Torres said that Vale and Samarco want to convert their own exhausted mine pits into landfills for tailings disposal, a move which would extend Samarco's mine life, the report said.

According to Torres, the companies have not requested an environmental license to use their mine pits, but he affirmed that Minas Gerais offers a simplified permitting process.

Samarco's reserves could last for 20 to 30 years, Torres said.

The dam burst killed 19 people, 13 of them mineworkers. One person is missing presumed dead. The tailings and sludge flowed hundreds of kilometers, polluting the Doce river (pictured), and reached the sea. The spill is considered Brazil's worst environmental disaster.