Brazilian mining giant Vale has secured a preliminary environmental licence from the Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Naturais Renováveis (Ibama) to expand its Carajás mine located in Para state.
The licence allows the company to expand its N4WS, N5S, Morro I and Morro II pits in the Carajás mining complex, which holds around 1.8 billion tonnes of reserves.
The licence also allows the complex to stockpile waste in the northern system in Carajás.
Vale CEO Murilo Ferreira said: "We are very pleased because the preliminary licence to EIA global represents an important step to delivering the production growth of iron ore and to reaching our goals, maintaining our commitment to act with transparency and respect the environment."
Following the preliminary licence approval, the company must now obtain installation and operation licences, and authorisation for vegetation suppression.
Located within Carajás National Forest, the Carajás mining complex also operates five open pit mines, including N4E, N4W, N5E, N5W and N5S.
The Carajás mines contribute around 35% of Vale's annual ore output, representing more than 300 million tonnes (Mt).
Vale's iron ore production for 2013 at Carajás was 104.88Mt, a decline of 1.8% from 2012.
The company is also building the new Carajás Serra Sul S11D iron project with $19.67bn of funds, which includes an $8.08bn investment in the new mine and processing plant, and $11.59bn for the logistics infrastructure.
After anticipated completion in 2016, the Carajás S11D iron project will produce and supply more than 90Mt of iron ore a year.
Image: Carajás mines accounts for approximately 35% of Vale's annual iron ore output. Photo: courtesy of Vale.