Find out about the Salobo project, Vale’s largest copper operation

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Find out about the Salobo project, Vale’s largest copper operation

The operation is also Vale’s second unit for this type of ore in Pará

The Salobo Copper Project is developed by Vale in Brazil. The mine is located in Marabá, in the southeast of Pará, and went into operation in November 2012. The venture has an estimated nominal capacity of 100,000 tons of concentrated copper per year. With the Salobo II mine expanding this operation, the enterprise's production capacity will double to 200,000 tons.

Salobo involves the integrated operation of open-pit mining, processing, transportation and shipment. The production is transported by road from the mine to Vale’s existing rail terminal in Parauapebas (Pará), where it is transported on the Carajás railroad to the Ponta da Madeira Maritime Terminal (Maranhão).

In 2013, the Unit produced 65,000 tons of concentrated copper. In the first half of 2014, 40,800 tons were produced. Copper is one of the most widely used metals in the world today, behind just iron and aluminum, and is used in the generation and transmission of energy, wiring and in virtually all electronic equipment, such as televisions and cell phones.

Production chain

Salobo is an open-pit mine. After being extracted, the ore is transported by off-road trucks to the crushing plant, where its particle size is reduced. In the next step, the ore is taken through the roller press, a piece of machinery that is made of two rollers that rotate in opposite directions, fragmenting the product using a combination of rotation and pressure. Soon after, the ore goes through mills and a battery of cyclones until it reaches flotation and filtration areas, which is the final step in the process, producing a concentrate containing 36% to 40% copper.


Technology is being used at the Salobo plant to increase the efficiency of operations and reduce energy and water consumption, in the form of the roller press, capable of resisting great effort in processing strong copper ore. The Salobo plant will start to reuse approximately 98% of all water produced during the ore beneficiation process.

Socioeconomic development

The Salobo mine contributes directly to the socioeconomic development of Marabá and Parauapebas (Pará), municipalities that are in the project’s area of influence, by promoting the installation of contractors in these cities and generating jobs and income in the region. During the deployment phase of the Salobo mine, which was initiated in 2007, Vale invested around $15 million in education, health and infrastructure in Marabá and Parauapebas.

Reforms of health centers were carried out and hospital equipment was purchased, among other initiatives. In the area of education, the municipalities were completely reformed, with the construction and expansion of schools, gymnasiums and sports courts. In Maraba, a technical and educational cooperation program was developed with the then Pará Technology Education Federal Centre (CEFET), now known as the Federal Institute of Pará (IFPA), which resulted in the provision of medium-level vocational technical courses in electrotechnics, mechanics and chemistry.

Environmental Preservation

The Salobo mine is within the Tapirapé-Aquiri National Forest, which covers an area of over 190,000 hectares and celebrated its 25-year anniversary in 2014.

To protect this important area of natural heritage, Vale is promoting the conservation of the biodiversity of this area alongside the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio).

Through its Salobo project, Vale signed an agreement In June 2014 with the ICMBio to expand the nursery belonging to the municipality’s Secretariat of Agriculture and offer training and technical assistance for agricultural and extractive activities carried in a sustainable way.

With the revitalization and expansion of the nursery, which also has a partnership with the municipality of Marabá, it is predicted that between 800,000 to 1 million seedlings will be produced every year. The plants are being used in a reforestation program for urban areas and as a source of alternative income generation for family farmers.

The agreement has also set out R$1.45 million for an environmental education program in the community of Lindoeste, in the municipality of São Félix do Xingu. Training and technical support in best practices in agroecological activities will be ensured for small producers to promote sustainable agricultural production.


Find out about the Salobo project, Vale’s largest copper operation