Brazilian miners suspend production on adverse weather conditions

Brazilian miner Vale, steelmakers Usiminas and Companhia Siderúrgica Nacional (CSN), and tube producer Vallourec say they have adopted a special restricting plan for their mining activities in Minas Gerais state, Kallanish notes.

Mineração Usiminas (Musa) temporarily suspended iron production at the Itatiaiuçu mine on 10 January due to rains in the region being significantly more intense than the historical average.

“Activities should be resumed upon the improvement of weather conditions which allow safe access to the mines and proper functioning of equipment, as well as after a review of the general conditions of facilities,” says Musa. For now, the suspension of activities will not affect the supply of raw materials to Usiminas as Musa’s stocks will be used. The miner confirms it has also activated the initial level 1 of alert of the Emergency Action Plan for Mining Dams for its Central Dam, which was deactivated in 2014.

Vale is also taking similar action for its mines in Minas Gerais. The company has partially halted production in the Southeastern and Southern Systems to guarantee the safety of its employees and communities, while monitoring its Minas Gerais dams daily. Vale suspended Estrada de Ferro Vitória train services, as well as shipments from the Brucutu and Mariana complex, where production remains halted.

The heavy rainfall is not impacting the Itabira complex, Vale explains. In the Southern System, due to the closure of stretches of the BR-040 and MG-030 highways, output at all the complexes is temporarily halted.

“The Northern System continues to operate in line with the production plan, which considers the seasonal impact of the rainy season on all operations and, therefore, Vale reiterates its production guidance of 320-335 million tonnes for 2022,” the miner adds.

Also, on 10 January, CSN’s Casa de Pedra mine temporarily suspended operations, with the expectation of a return to activities in the next few days. The company has kept its loading port terminal in Itaguaí closed. “CSN has taken all necessary precautionary measures to ensure employee safety and expects a gradual resumption of activities as soon as weather conditions permit,” says the company.

Meanwhile, Vallourec Brazil says there was no dam failure at its iron ore mining unit, contrary to media reports on Sunday. “Due to the excessive rains of the last few days, the solid material was transported from the Cachoeirinha pile to the Dique Lisa, located in Nova Lima, causing the overflow of this dike, which is close to the BR 040 highway,” Vallourec clarifies. “The dike is a rainwater containment structure and is therefore not a mining tailings dam. The massif is intact and there was no rupture of the structure.”

Other manufacturing industries in Minas Gerais state have also confirmed taking precautionary measures and have signalled a potential reduction in production.

Todor Kirkov Bulgaria