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Vale has suspended production at its Timbopeba mine and part of its Alegria mine in Brazil following orders by prosecutors to evacuate an area around the nearby Xingu dam.

The closure is in compliance with the Regional Labor Superintendence’s notification for the prohibition of activities in areas close to the Xingu dam.

Vale said that the measures will halt material flow from the Timbopeba Plant. This would subsequently lead to a temporary production halt at the unit.

As a result, production is expected to be reduced by 33,000 iron ore fines a day at the Timbopeba mine.

The company also closed some of the internal accesses at the Alegria mine. This partially impacts the production of the plant, which is estimated at 7,500tpd of iron ore fines.

In a press statement, Vale said: “Vale emphasises that the Xingu Dam remains at level 2 of the Emergency Action Plan for Mining Dams (PAEBM), in which there is no imminent risk of rupture, and that the structure’s safety conditions remain unchanged.

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“The Xingu dam is monitored and inspected daily by a specialised technical team and is included in the company’s dam decharacterisation plan. The Self-Rescue Zone (ZAS) of the Xingu Dam remains evacuated, with no permanent presence of people in the area.”

The Alegria iron ore mine is located in Iron Quadrangle, within the districts of Mariana and Ouro Preto in Minas Gerais.

It is owned by Samarco Mineracão, which is a joint venture of BHP Billiton and Vale with each holding a 50% stake.

In 2015, the Samarco-operated dam in the town of Mariana burst. In 2019, another accident at Samarco’s asset in Brumadinho killed nearly 300 people.