The objective of the Desafio minerALL challenge is to develop business based on the use of mine tailings



Tuesday, the 18th of October, was the kick-off day for the activities of Desafio MinerALL, an initiative of Neo Ventures and Samarco, with the support of the Federal University of Ouro Preto (UFOP), the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), the National Institute of Science and Technology (INCTMIDAS) and the Center for Development of Nuclear Technology (CDTN). Of the more than 400 students who applied for the program, 84 were selected. These are students currently enrolled in undergraduate, master’s and doctoral programs of several universities in Belo Horizonte and the region of Ouro Preto and Mariana.

This exclusive focus of this edition of the Desafio is the use of tailings (sandy and slimes) generated by Samarco in other industrial sectors, based on the pre-acceleration of 17 technologies. This will require the participants to develop technical, socioenvironmental and economic feasibility studies supported by methodology, mentorships, training and interactions with recognized professionals. Throughout the development of the Desafio program, evaluation panels will be held, once a month in October, November and December. Demoday will take place in mid-December, when the best teams will present their pitches to demonstrate the solutions they developed.

During the opening session yesterday (18), Samarco’s CEO, Rodrigo Vilela, welcomed the students and emphasized the importance of the partnership between the company and the universities. “Samarco itself was born of a challenge, at the end of the seventies, which was to beneficiate low grade ore. We are working hard to resume our operations and we know that we must and should continue innovating. Initiatives such as the Desafio MinerALL multiply our alternatives so that we can go back into operation in an even safer and more sustainable manner”, he said.

On that occasion, the students also participated in group dynamics to define the work teams and went on a field visit to the Germano complex in Mariana, where they saw one of Samarco’s iron ore beneficiation plants, as well as the Alegria Sul pit (where the Company intends to deposit the tailings when it resumes operation), and the Monitoring and Inspection Center (CMI), where all of Samarco’s geotechnical structures are monitored 24/7.

The leader of the Desafio MinerALL at Samarco, Alessandra Prata, explained the name of the project. “MinerALL is written this way to reinforce the idea that we are pursuing, in a collaborative manner with various players of society, the development of business solutions to use the tailings in order to cause positive impacts in our mining region. We are seeking, by thinking together, solutions not only for mining, but more specifically for society in general”.

Among the benefits for the participants is the access to development methodologies: training, mentorship with recognized professionals, contact with technology and innovation, certificate valid for academic credits, development of competence in team work, overcoming challenges and alignment with market needs. And for the finalist teams, there will be the possibility of scaling, acceleration or even investment in the event the solutions are feasible, in addition to the offering of internships at Samarco for the winning team.

Selected for Desafio MinerALL, mining engineering student of UFOP, Nayara Maria da Silva, who is from Congonhas, a city in Minas Gerais inside the Iron Quadrangle, underlined the importance of rethinking the approach to the use of tailings. “Making use of tailings is a challenge faced by the entire mining industry. As we live in a mining region where the ore grade is falling, our responsibility to seek solutions is growing”, she said.

Matheus Monjardim, a study of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering from UFMG, specified the reason why he enrolled in the Desafio. “Being able to work on the use of tailings to help foment the economy is very important. The coaching we will receive will also bring me professional growth and this caught my attention as well.”

“We want to rethink mining. The idea of transforming tailings into a product and contributing to sustainable mining was what led me to enroll in the Desafio”, concluded Lucas Periardi do Amaral, a student of Environmental Engineering at UFOP.

In addition to students from UFOP and UFMG, undergraduate and graduate students were also selected from Centro Federal de Educação Tecnológica de Minas Gerais (Cefet), Pontifícia Universidade Católica de Minas Gerais (PUC Minas) and Centro Universitário de Belo Horizonte (UNIBH).