Brazilian iron ore miner Vale has announced that it expects to resume operations within 72 hours at Brucutu mine in Sao Goncalo do Rio Abaixo in the state of Minas Gerais.
The company made the announcement in a securities filing on 16 April. Brucutu is the largest iron ore mine in Minas Gerais.
A Brazilian court has given an authorisation to the company to reopen the Brucutu mine, which was closed in February this year following a tailings dam burst in late-January. The incident killed hundreds of people in the town of Brumadinho.
The state of Minas Gerais authorised Vale to resume operations early last month. However, the company could not proceed due to a court injunction, which ordered the miner to halt operations at 13 of its tailings dams.
The latest order by the Minas Gerais state court overturns the injunction.
Responding to the injunction, Vale stated last month: “The decision will only impact the operations of the Brucutu mine, due to eventual discharges from its concentration plant into the Sul Dam.
“The decisions were mainly based on a notification received by the MPMG containing preliminary information on the structures. Vale will continue to take all necessary measures to ensure the safety of its dams and will take the appropriate legal measures concerning the civil actions.”
Brucutu has an annual production capacity of 30 million tonnes of iron ore. This represents about 8% of Vale’s annual output.
The company’s operations have been under scrutiny following the tailings dam disaster. In 2015, a dam failure at Samarco, Vale’s joint venture project with BHP, killed at least 19 people. The Samarco accident is referred to as Brazil’s worst ever environmental disaster.
Last month, the Wall Street Journal reported that Brazilian prosecutors were launching an investigation into more than 100 high-risk mining dams across the country.
The probe was launched in the aftermath of the Vale’s dam collapse in January after doubts were raised over the legitimacy of safety audits carried out at the mines.