The operational licence (LO) of Vale’s Sossego mine in Brazil has been suspended by the Environmental and Sustainability office of Pará State.

The specific reasons behind the suspension were not disclosed.

Vale is currently assessing steps to restore the mine’s operational status.

The Brazilian miner has expressed its dedication to adhering to the socio-environmental standards and controls mandated by law.

In a statement, the company said: “Vale emphasises its commitment to complying with the socio-environmental conditions and controls required by legislation, as well as to showing respect for the neighbouring communities.”

The company also noted that it regularly submits reports to environmental agencies regarding all regional social programmes.  

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Last month, Vale reported its production figures for the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2023.

The miner produced 89.4 million tonnes (mt) of iron ore in Q4 2023, a 11% increase from the same quarter of 2022, and recorded its highest monthly iron ore output since 2018 in December.

Its copper production was 99,100 tonnes (t) in the reported quarter. The Sossego mine produced 66,800t of copper in 2023.

In terms of copper output, Sossego is Vale’s second-largest mine, stated Reuters.

In the same month, a federal judge in Brazil directed Vale, BHP and their Samarco joint venture to pay $9.7bn in damages for the tailings dam collapse in 2015 that killed 19 people and polluted the Rio Doce river. The incident, called the worst environmental disaster in Brazilian history, released 60 million cubic metres of iron ore waste and mud, leading to severe ecological damage.