By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – The mining giant of Brazil, Vale, announced that it received an operating license for the exploration of the S11D iron ore mine in the Amazon state of Pará. This is the largest iron ore project in the history of the company and in Brazil’s mining industry.

Brazil, Pará,Vale's iron ore project in Carajas, Pará will be the largest in Brazil's mining industry,
Vale’s iron ore project in Carajas, Pará will be the largest in Brazil’s mining industry, photo courtesy of Vale.

Vale estimates the project, due to start commercial operations in January 2017, will have total investments of US$14.3 billion.

The operating license, valid for ten years, was issued by Brazil’s environmental agency, Ibama, after it verified that the mining company complied with all of the environmental control measures.

According to the Vale spokesperson of the US$14.3 billion in investments, US$6.4 billion will be used in the exploration of the mine and the operation of the processing plant, while US$7.9 billion will be used in building a 101-km railway line to Ponta da Madeira Maritime Terminal in São Luís, Maranhão.

The company expects to process 90 million metric tons of iron ore per year when the mine and plant is fully operational.

Aware of the environmental consequences of mining in the Amazon region, Vale executives stated that the ore would be extracted through open-pit mining and transported from the mine to the plant by a long-distance conveyor belt.

“Through this solution, it was possible to reduce the amount of vegetation cleared in the forest by more than forty percent compared to the original master plan, which called for 2,600 hectares to be cleared,” said the press release announcing the start of mine operations.

According to Vale even after S11D has been fully implemented, only four percent of the 412,000 hectares of the Carajás National Forest will have been affected by the mining activities.

The S11D mine and plant are located in Canaã dos Carajás, in the southeastern part of Pará state. The Carajás mine complex is the largest iron-ore complex in the world.

Recently in the news, Vale was severely criticized for being one of the owners of the Samarco mining plant, which due to the rupture of a dam dumped thousands of tons of toxic waste into the region of Mariana, Minas Gerais.

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