The Brazilian federal court has ordered the temporary suspension of activities at Vale and Arcelor Mittal Brasil at Pier II (iron ore) and the Coal Pier (Praia Mole) due to environmental concerns.
The latest court ruling comes as Vale is under pressure over its environmental record following the burst tailings dam at a Brazilian mine run by its Samarco joint venture in November 2015 that killed at least 17 people.
A police investigation has confirmed that activities at the company’s iron ore dock and coal dock have resulted in dust contaminating the surrounding water and air, Reuters reported.
The Tubarão port, which exports iron ore extracted from the Iron Quadrangle in Minas Gerais, also handles coal imports and steel exports for the Brazilian unit of ArcelorMittal.
In his ruling, judge Marcus Vinicius Figueiredo de Oliveira Costa said that the suspension would remain in effect until Vale and ArcelorMittal address the pollution issues.
Vale said in a statement: "This measure has halted Vale’s import and export activities in Espírito Santo, causing a major impact on the state’s economy, and also affecting the state of Minas Gerais."
"Vale will take all appropriate legal measures to guarantee the re-establishment of its activities at the Port of Tubarão."
According to the company, the Port of Tubarão exported 82.5 million tonnes of iron ore from January to September 2015.
Praia Mole Terminal (TPM) is also part of Tubarão Port complex and imported 8.9 million tonnes of coal during the same period.
The shutdown is expected to prevent the Port of Tubarão from exporting about 200,000t of iron ore per day.
TPM will be unable to import around 44,000t of coal per day following the closure.
Vale said that it has invested R$800m ($193m) between 2007 and 2014 in order to equip Tubarão complex’s entire production system.
Image: The Tubarão port exports iron ore extracted from the Iron Quadrangle in Minas Gerais. Photo: courtesy of Vale.