Vale’s subsidiary Tecnored Desenvolvimento Tecnológico has started up the first pig iron demonstration plant in São Paulo state, Brazil, in partnership with BNDES Bank of Brazil and Logos Tecnocom.

The plant uses Tecnored technology, which enables pig iron to be produced from iron ore of different grades and quality and even ultra fine iron ore, which is currently deposited in tailings ponds.

The technology may extend the lifespan of the mines and reduce the environment impacts through high productivity and lower CO2 emissions.

Vale’s global director of basic materials marketing Pedro Gutemberg said by using iron ore fines, it is possible to reduce the need to open up new areas for tailings ponds, which require environmental licenses to be created.

"This start-up has encouraged us to move ahead in our research, as the tests show the technology is technically feasible," Gutemberg said.

Research to develop the project began more than 35 years ago.