Use of tailings
For more than 10 years, Samarco, in partnership with some companies and universities, has been studying and developing ways and alternatives to take advantage of the tailings coming from the processing of iron ore. Over time, there could be a production of hydraulic tiles, pre-molded blocks, ceramic artifacts, ferric salts, among other products.
In another front, Samarco participates in the R3 Mineral Platform, a space of articulation between scientific, technological and industrial organizations in order to rethink waste management and mining tailings in Minas Gerais and to still enable large-scale applications.
Mine Tailings Application
The tailing is the material remaining from the process of iron ore and it is composed of iron ore, sand and water. It is not toxic, corrosive or flammable.
Samarco produces two types of tailings: sandy tailings and sludges. According to their chemical and physical characteristics, these tailings become feedstock for other productive sectors as quoted below:
Part of Samarco’s learning was applied in the repair works of the areas impacted by the Fundão dam burst, such as Manoel Lino Mol Square and Beira Rio Avenue in Barra Longa. Both roads were rebuilt with blocks produced from sediment originating from the dam burst, by small manufacturers of Santa Cruz do Escalvado and Ponte Nova (MG).
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In 2013 and 2014, the blocks made of 30% of sandy tailings were used as paving stones in neighborhood of “the Porto Grande”, in Guarapari (ES), and in Samarco’s industrial units.
The application of products made of sludge tailings are present as well in Samarco’s industrial units with the plastic wood benches. Because the sludge is non-organic, it is used as a pigment considered as more durable in giving color to the wood, that is made of plastic trimmings and vegetable fibers.
Application of tailings in the first urban farm in Latin America
In 2017, Samarco signed a partnership with BeGreen, the first urban farm in Latin America, located at the Boulevard Shopping, in Belo Horizonte. It is a space for the production of organic vegetables with an innovative cultivation system in consortium with the fish farming.
Sustainability is also part of the space construction. Indeed, the whole urbanist project of the farm, from paving the floor, designing the electrical installations to the furniture of the place, was conceived with the premise of using recyclable materials.
Samarco’s sandy tailings were used for the production of interlocking blocks, used on the farm floor. Technically, the blocks provides the same safety and durability as the blocks uniquely made of sand, besides being greener. Uni-Stein was the company responsible for manufacturing the blocks used in the paving of BeGreen’s farm.
Samarco also provided the sludge for the production of plastic woods, used in the manufacturing of decks, tables and chairs for the space. The pieces were manufactured by Ecoblock, which, like Uni-Stein, participates in this initiative with Samarco.
Learn more by watching the video below: