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Brazilian Authorities Prohibits 'Upstream' Type of Tailings Dam
= Decommissioning or removal by August 2021 =
After the collapse of the Dam I of the Corrego do Feijao mine, an 'upstream' type tailings dam owned by miner Vale S.A. ("Vale") at Brumadinho in the state of Minas Gerais, southern-eastern Brazil, on 25 January, the National Mining Agency ("ANM") of Brazil issued a resolution on 18 February that all so-called upstream dams need to be decommissioned or removed by August 2021.

A dam constructed with the upstream method contains ponds of tailings waste, a byproduct of extracting iron ore. Prior to this resolution, Vale had already announced its decision (in 2016) to decommission all of its 19 existing upstream dams for iron ore in Brazil, and nine of which had been decommissioned since then. Vale has also kept reports on the stability of these dams issued by specialized and independent companies. The company is now aiming to decommission the other ten dams as soon as the authorizations are given, beginning with the Vargem Grande dam.

The closure of a dam makes it impossible for the operator to process tailings, which leads to production cuts over a certain period of time including the down period. The total production volume of the iron ore mines that use any of these ten tailings dams amounts to 40 mil tons per annum (MTPA). Of this, the production volume related to the Vargem Grande dam is 13 MTPA. Vale has estimated the amount of investment required for the decommissioning work as approx. R$5 bil (approx. US$1.34B at US$1=R$3.72). The company intends to minimize the negative impact from the production cuts by increasing the production in the Northern system.

The death toll as of 17 February is 169 according to a local media report.
last modified : Tue 26 Feb, 2019 [12:17]
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