Brazilian mining firm Vale has commenced operating a tailings filtration plant at its Vargem Grande iron ore complex in the state of Minas Gerais.

The new facility, which represents the first of four filtration plants to be operated at the company’s sites in the state, is expected to reduce dependence on dams.

Additionally, the tailings filtration plant is expected to improve the average quality of the company’s product portfolio by using wet processing on the site.

Vale said that the new plant reduces the existing water in the iron ore tailings during the filtration process. As a result, most of the material are stacked in a solid form, thereby reducing the use of dams.

The four tailings filtration plants in Minas Gerais are anticipated to cater to beneficiation plants that have a total processing capacity of 64 metric tonnes per annum (Mtpa) of iron ore.

In a press statement, the company said: “The start-up of tailings’ filtration operations in Vargem Grande is another step in stabilising iron ore production and on the way to resume the 400Mtpa production capacity by the end of 2022.”

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The Brazilian miner plans to commission the first filtration plant in the Itabira Complex this year followed by the launch of operations of the second filtration plant at the Itabira Complex and of the first filtration plant at the Brucutu site in 2022.

Vale is also planning to commission the Maravilhas III dam, which is currently under final construction stage.

Between 2020 and 2024, the company intends to invest a total of $2.3bn in the plants.

Earlier this month, Vale started the commissioning process at the Timbopeba site in the Mariana Complex in Minas Gerais. The move is intended to ramp up wet processing production at the complex.