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Brazilian miner Vale (NYSE: VALE) will process 80Mt of iron ore waste from tailings dams in Minas Gerais state, paper Folha de S Paulo reported.
The company announced a plan to recover 31Mt of ore that has been lying for decades in eight tailings dams in the state. At a current international iron ore price of US$147.30/t, the project could bring in revenues of US$4.5bn, according to the report, which Vale published on its website.
Waste removal will start in 2013 with the extraction of 1Mt and the pace will increase in subsequent years.
The material contained in the tailings has an average grade of 35%, which will rise to 62% after processing. The end product will be sold as iron ore dust to be used in the sintered parts industry or converted into pellets for blast furnaces.
The recovery process will increase the longevity of Vale's tailing dams.
Rio de Janeiro-based Vale is the world's largest iron ore producer and exporter.