Founded in 1977, Samarco is a privately held mining company. Its main product, iron ore pellets, is being sold to the steel industry in countries of the Americas, the Middle East, Asia and Europe.
The company, 42 years active in the Brazilian mineral sector, has two operating units: Germano, in Mariana and Ouro Preto (MG), where iron ore extraction and beneficiation was carried out in three concentrators, and Ubu, in Anchieta (ES), where four pelletizing plants are located. The units are interconnected by three 400-kilometer-long pipelines, which run through 25 municipalities of the two states.
In 2015, when Samarco halted its operations, 24.9 million tons were produced, 97% in pellets and 3% in iron ore fines. That year, the company was the 12th largest exporter in Brazil, with a revenue of R$ 6.5 billion, and generated around 6 thousand direct and indirect jobs.
Throughout its history, the company has always dedicated itself to honoring its commitments to society and the environment and this conduct remains to this day. It is for this reason that the Company expresses its dismay at the collapse of the Fundao dam in November 2015.
The Fundão dam collapse
The dam collapse, on November 5, 2015, caused environmental damage, impacting families in the region and other locations along the Doce River. We sincerely apologize for the harm caused to communities and society and we know that none of our actions can bring back those who lost their lives.
From the first day after the incident, Samarco put in place actions to assist the people involved and to repair environmental damages. To prove its commitment to the social, environmental and economic recovery of the impacted regions, Samarco, together with its shareholders Vale SA and BHP Billiton Brasil Ltda., signed, in March 2016, a Transaction and Conduct Adjustment Agreement (TTAC) with the federal government and state governments of Minas Gerais and Espirito Santo. The TTAC provided for the creation of a foundation to repair and remedy the impacts of the collapse. Since August that year, the Renova Foundation has been in charge of the 42 repair and compensation programs provided for in the TTAC.
From November 2015 to December 2018, R$ 5.3 billion was allocated to the repair and compensation actions, which were taken over by the Renova Foundation in August 2016.
After the emergency actions, which took place throughout 2016, the company started seeking authorizations to resume its operations.
Operational resumption of Samarco
Samarco’s operations have been suspended since November 2015, shortly after the collapse of the Fundao dam. To learn more about the resumption of Samarco, click here.
To resume its operation, Samarco needs two licenses: the first is for a new tailings disposal site (Alegria Sul Pit); and the second for the Corrective Operational Licensing (LOC) for the Germano Complex, located in Mariana and Ouro Preto (MG).
The processes to acquire the necessary licensing for resumption of the activities are in progress. New technologies will be used that bring more safety and less environmental impact, such as the disposal of the tailings at the Alegria Sul Pit, which is under construction, and the implementation of a filtration system.
The whole process for the resumption of activities is being accompanied by the competent bodies.
About the Alegria Sul Pit and the filtration system
The Alegria Sul Pit is a stable rock formation previously used for withdrawing iron ore. Because it is a confined space, it provides for a safer and natural containment of the tailings.
The resumption also includes the implementation of a tailings filtering system, which will allow the processing of the sandy part, which represents 80% of the total volume of tailings generated. This way the sandy tailings will be disposed in stacks.
Mud densification, which corresponds to 20% of the total volume of tailings, will reduce the amount of water present in this material, thus increasing the useful life of the Alegria Sul Pit. All the water withdrawn in the filtration and densification processes will be recirculated in the productive process, increasing the water efficiency of the company.
So far, there is no prediction of the resumption date of Samarco’s industrial operations.
Click here to learn more about what is needed for Samarco to resume its operations.