Vale innovates by producing sustainable sand which reduces the generation of tailings

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Vale innovates by producing sustainable sand which reduces the generation of tailings


Combining innovation, sustainability and benefits for society, Vale invested around 50 million Brazilian Reais in the development of sand produced from adaptation in the iron ore operation in the State of Minas Gerais. The sandy material, previously disposed in piles and dams, is processed and transformed into a product, following the same quality controls used in the production of iron ore.

After seven years of research, Vale Sand comes as 100% legal and efficient alternative for the civil construction industry for use in cement, precast concrete, interlocked blocks, pavement, among others. According to Marcello Spinelli, Vale's executive vice president for Ferrous, the product is the result from more sustainable operation practices.


This action promotes a circular economy within our units and reduces the impact of tailings disposal for the environment and the society, in addition to being a reliable alternative for the civil construction industry, where the demand for sand is high"

Spinelli says.


The previous tailings now return for new treatment and become a product with high silica content and low iron content.

As it is an essentially physical processing, the sand is not toxic, considering that it does not undergo change in the composition of the materials. Another positive point for the civil construction is that the chemical and granulometric uniformity of the product is high.

Understand the stages of the production process in the video below:


One of the main differentials of Vale´s Sand is that it contributes to the circular economy, considering that the material previously destined to dams as tailings returns to the society as an alternative to a product under from predatory extraction.

Did you know that sand, finite natural resource, is the second most explored globally?

According to the United Nations, it is estimated that around 40 to 50 billion tons of sand are used in the world every year. After water, this is the resource that suffers the most from illegal and predatory extraction.

Production scale

Only in 2021, more than 250 thousand tons of the product have already been processed and destined for sale to companies or donation to city halls for use in concrete, mortar, precast, artifacts, cement and road pavement.

So far, Vale has sold more than 1 million tons of sand to companies in Minas Gerais, Espírito Santo, São Paulo and the Federal District. The deliveries will be made next year.

There is perspective for even higher growth for 2023, reaching 2 million tons.


We are getting ready to scale up the sand destination even more as from 2023. For this purpose, we have a team of professionals dedicated to this new business and adapting our operations to meet the market needs”

Rogério Nogueira, Director of Ferrous Marketing, explains.​


Vale innovates by producing sustainable sand which reduces the generation of tailings