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Vale: Transforming the Future Together

With a chief commitment to safety and transparency, Vale is an international mining company that focuses on producing iron ore, pellets, and nickel. Spread across 5 continents, the global mining company works every day to take the natural resources available to us and develop them into prosperous resources; all whilst still working to promote environmental protection. This drive towards sustainable development underpins everything that Vale does, as it believes the safety of people and the planet must always take priority.  

 

Since its establishment in 1942, Vale has grown into one of the largest mining companies in the world with operations across roughly 30 countries all over the globe. However, the foundations of its operations in Brazil, remain the focus for the company operating across both the mining and logistics sectors. The company began under the name Companhia Vale do Rio Doce, where it first extracted ore in Itabira in Minas Gerais. Over the years, the name was shortened, and the company began to take on a larger role across the country’s mining industry by also providing logistical solutions via the country’s railroads, ports, and terminals. It even began operations within the energy industry to promote sustainable electrical production, and now is responsible for producing 54% of its own energy consumption.  

Vale’s operations in Brazil centre around iron ore, particularly iron pellets which are used in the construction or manufacturing of many products and services we use every single day. Vale highlights that these ores are working towards the evolution of society as they are used in industries that are developing the world towards the future such as construction for houses and medical facilities, as well as in the technology and manufacturing sectors for things such as cars and household appliances. Also, ore found in the Carajás region in Brazil is considered to be the best quality in the world, at 67% iron content. Therefore, with such a rich deposit of iron ore in Brazil, Vale’s operations play a crucial role in mining and delivering these metals for the development of society.  

Vales has multiple mine sites across Brazil, which are involved in the mining, processing, and then logistical movement of the mined products to the steel industries in which it sells the iron. To understand Vale’s valuable role in the mining industry in Brazil, we first must look at the birthplace of the company in Minas Gerais. The state accounts for over 50% of Vale’s iron ore production, with 20 mines currently in operation. Mining in Minas Gerais takes advantage of Vale’s railroad connections between Vitória and Minas.  

Vale has invested more the 1.3 billion dollars in the acquisition of trains and freight cars, which it primarily uses for transporting iron ore as well as other cargo. The logistics sector of Vale’s operations allows it to play a more well-rounded role in the mining industry and the distribution of its mined products to the ports and steel-making marketplace. Therefore, the mining operations at Minas Gerais highlight how the mining and logistical operations of Vale work so closely together to deliver the rich ore to end markets for the betterment of a future planet.   

In Minas Gerais, Vale is working alongside the city of Itabira to use its efforts within the mining industry to positively impact the city and build a plan for a more sustainable city.  The plan, devised in conjunction with the municipal administration, aims to develop the region with projects which concern the environment, education, and security – all of which are developed with innovation in mind. These projects include the Little Seed of Sport Project, Judo Classes and the Bright Minds Chess Project which is bringing key development to kids across the region all thanks to Vale’s commitment to putting people and the environment at the forefront of its operations.  

Vale announced in February that it had entered into an agreement with Anglo American Minério de Ferro Brasil in the Minas-Rio complex in Minas Gerais. The agreement will see Vale acquire a 15% ownership interest in the complex, whilst Anglo will retain control, management, and operation of the Minas-Rio complex as well as any future expansions. The agreement marks a vital step for Vale and Anglo to develop the mining for iron ore whilst facilitating Anglo’s shift towards low carbon-emission steelmaking processes. The Minas-Rio complex has a nameplate capacity of 26.5Mtpy for high-grade iron pellet feed, and the whole complex comprises the mine, plant, as well as geotechnical and supporting structures.  

As part of the agreement, the Minas-Rio complex will be able to utilize Vale’s nearby rail line and Tubarão port to expand output as an alternative to the construction of a second pipeline to the port facility at Açu. The partnership between the two companies was celebrated by Vale CEO, Eduardo Bartolomeo, stating in a press release that “Minas-Rio is a Tier-1 asset that will benefit from great synergies with Serpentina’s deposit and Vale’s logistics, and we are confident that this partnership will unlock significant value to all of our stakeholders.”. Bartolomeo’s comments highlight the valuable role both companies can play in developing the deposit whilst taking advantage of the company’s existing infrastructural logistics links which will bring economic development for both companies and the respective region.  

Pará, the largest mining complex in Brazil, is owned by Vale and represents one of the largest private investments in the country in recent years. The S11D mine complex in Pará encompasses the mines, a processing plant, and rail and port logistic services, which have continued to drive the region’s economic development for many years. The mines are responsible for mining iron, manganese, copper, and nickel across a vast array of mines which span the complex. However, much like in Minas Gerais, Vale also has a vast array of environmental projects in Pará which ensure that the rich biodiversity of the nearby Carajás National Forest is protected.  

A key environmental project for Vale is the Vale Amazon Biopark within the Carajás National Forest which works to provide education on the landscape and species which inhabit the forest. The Biopark ensures that more than 270 animals can roam freely, allowing visitors to learn about the animals in their natural habitats. Over the last decade, the site has seen more than 1.1 million people visiting the site, which has allowed Vale to continue to invest in the protection of the forest which is home to one of the most biodiverse regions in the country.  

In Espírito Santo, mining extends back more than 50 years and highlights the vital role the state’s railway and port systems can play in the mining industry. In Espírito Santo, Vale developed a fully integrated strategy for mining logistics which continues to be used every day. Vale’s operations in Espírito Santo highlighted the company for its production of iron pellets, and now the production of pellets by Vale in the region is globally recognised.  

Espírito Santo is also home to the largest environmental investment by Vale towards the development of the Tubarão Environmental Master Plan (PDA). PDA aims to control atmospheric emissions and covers 160 projects which are implementing new equipment, improving the environmental controls of its operations, and researching new technologies to reduce environmental impacts. The vast project which encapsulated Vale’s core values, has been successful in its efforts to make vital developments towards the future, whilst remaining clear in its aim to respect the planet, the local communities and the people who live and work across their sites of operation.  

Other key mining sites for Vale in Brazil are in Maranhão and Rio de Janeiro. In Maranhão, Vale works with the state to support the logistical movement of ore production through the Carajás Railway to the Ponta da Madeira Maritime Terminal. The terminal plays a valuable role in distributing the ore to consumer markets across the globe, including in China which is currently one of the largest buyers of iron ore products. Then, in Rio de Janeiro, Vale operates the Porto Sul Complex in the Costa Verde region. Vale’s headquarters are based in the capital, along with a number of terminals which are used for the loading of iron ore. The entire site has the capacity to move more than 75 million tonnes of ore every year through the terminals and towards end markets. 

Surrounding the terminals, Vale continues to carry out environmental projects, such as its Fazenda Marinha Project which, much like PDA, monitors environment quality indicators to ensure that the environment is protected as much as possible whilst implementing initiatives which are centres on valuing local culture and promoting education across the region.  

Ultimately, Vale’s existence hinges on a passion for improving life and transforming the future for generations to come. To do this, Vale is carrying out mining operations which are essential to life whilst producing ores, pellets and various metals which help to make this possible. However, it is Vale’s commitment to education, environmental protection and innovative approach to the future that has allowed it to play such a valuable role in Brazil for many years thanks to its constant commitment to developing necessary mining operations whilst putting great investment back into the protection of landscapes to support the rich biodiversity of this part of the world. 

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