Mining giant Anglo American has received approval from Brazil’s environmental agency Ibama to operate a slurry pipe at its Minas Rio iron ore project in Brazil, which is expected to cost $8.8bn.

The company will use the slurry pipe to transport iron ore to the coast for export.

The approval will allow the company to start production at the mine by the end of the year, reported Reuters.

Anglo American Brazil iron ore corporate affairs director Pedro Borrego told the news agency that: "The receiving of the operating licence for the slurry pipe is a very important step towards first production of iron ore at Minas Rio."

"The Minas Rio mine will be able to produce 26.5Mt of iron ore a year during its mine life of 28 years."

Meanwhile, the company is also waiting on an operating license for the mine and the processing plant.

Located in the states of Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro in the south-eastern region of Brazil, the Minas Rio mine is 100%-owned by Anglo American through its subsidiary Iron Ore Brazil.

According to Anglo, the Minas Rio mine will be able to produce 26.5 million tonnes (Mt) of iron ore a year during its mine life of 28 years. The company expects to remove the first batch of minerals within 18 to 20 months of starting production.

After the first year of production, Anglo anticipates production to rise to around 11Mt to 15Mt.

Of the project’s total outlay, Anglo is investing around $2.2bn this year and a further $1bn next year. The company had previously predicted that the mine would start operations by the end of 2009 at a cost of $2.35bn.