SMM5, 14 Feb: Vale aims to achieve 70 per cent of dry mineral processing by 2023; over the past decade the company has invested 66 billion reais to increase the proportion of dry mineral processing to 60 per cent at present.
Over the past decade, Vale has invested 66 billion reais (US $17.5 billion) in the implementation and promotion of dry mineral processing in Brazil. This technology uses the natural moisture contained in iron ore itself for mineral processing, does not need water, and does not produce tailings in the process of mineral processing, so there is no need to use tailings dam. Over the next five years, Vale is expected to invest another 11 billion reais (US $2.5 billion) in dry mineral processing. Vale currently uses dry dressing for about 60 per cent of its iron ore production, and the company aims to increase that to 70 per cent.
The Caracas, Sehalesch and Eliezer Batista S11D mines in the state of Para, Brazil, as well as a number of factories in the state of Minas Gerais, use natural moisture for dry mineral processing. In Para state, about 80% of the northern system's 2018 production, or about 200 million tons of iron ore, was screened by dry method. The Caracas No. 1 plant is currently being transformed into dry ore separation, with 11 of its 17 separation lines completed and the remaining 6 to be completed by the end of 2022.
Neither the Sehalesch Concentrator in Curiopolis nor the S11D Concentrator in Canandu Caracas need water in the dressing process. Taking S11D as an example, because of making full use of the natural moisture of ore, the water consumption of dry mineral processing can be saved by 93% compared with the traditional mineral processing method, and the water saved every year is enough to meet the needs of a city of 400000 people.
The proportion of dry mineral processing in Minas Gerais rose to 32% in 2018, up from 20% in 2016. Today, dry ore separation is used in a number of mining areas, such as Brucutu, Alegria, F á brica Nova, Fazend ã o, Ab ó boras, Mutuca, Pica and F á brica. The company aims to extend dry ore dressing to other mining areas in Minas Gerais in the next few years, such as Apolo and Capanema, which are currently applying for environmental permits.
Dry mineral processing is related to the grade of iron in the mined ore. In Caracas, because of the high iron grade (more than 64%), the ore only needs to be crushed and screened, so it can be screened according to the size (particle size) of the ore. In Minas Gerais, iron exists in rocks known as "iron quartzite" with an average iron grade of 40%. In order to improve the grade of iron, it is necessary to enrich the ore by wet method. The resulting watery tailings with silicon as the basic component are stored in the tailings dam. The high-grade ore produced by wet method is sent to the pelletizing factory to produce pellets in order to increase the added value of the product.
The application of dry ore dressing depends on the exploitation of higher grade (about 60 per cent) iron ore, which is still exploitable in some mining areas in Minas Gerais. In order to upgrade the iron grade to the level necessary to be included in Vale's product portfolio, the company's logistics centres in China and Malaysia mix these mines with Caracas. The mixing operation enables Vale to customize superior quality mineral products according to customer needs.
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