Samarco starts iron ore shipment to Europe

Reconstruction efforts at Samarco’s Fundão tailings dam in 2017. (Image courtesy of BHP)

Samarco started on Monday its first shipment of iron ore, five years after Fundão dam tragedy.

According to the company, approximately 75,000 tonnes of iron ore pellets will be shipped from Brazil to Europe.

The company resumed its operations on December 23, 2020, with 26% of its total production capacity, which represents the production of about 7-8 million tonnes of iron ore per year.

Samarco’s operations were suspended following the failure of the Fundão dam in November 2015.

The dam, owned by Samarco – controlled by Vale and BHP – burst, releasing 39.2 million cubic meters of tailings waste in the Rio Doce Basin, killing 19 people. It was considered Brazil’s worst environmental disaster.

Samarco’s gradual restart of operations incorporates concentrator 3 at the Germano complex in Minas Gerais state and pelletising plant 4 at Ubu, Espirito Santo state, as well as a new system of tailings disposal combining a confined pit and tailings filtering system for dry stacking.

The company estimates that only in 2029 it should reach a production scale between 22 million and 24 million tonnes of iron ore per year, the same level as before the tragedy.

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