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Waste

Our production process generates mineral and non-mineral wastes. We maintain a waste management program focused on minimization, segregation, traceability, valuation and proper disposal, in addition to encouraging the generation of jobs and income from recycling practices.

The mining and processing activities generate waste called as waste or tailings. These mining wastes have a different management process and are currently disposed of in structures called piles and dams. See more information about dams control and management.

In what concerns non-mineral waste, an efficient management is of great importance to Vale, since it enables us to minimize the environmental impact generated by our activities. This way, our Waste Management Program focuses on the performance of three main fronts:

KPIs Report

In 2020, 751  thousand tons of waste were generated, of which 40,5 thousand tons can be classified as hazardous and 710,8  thousand tons as non-hazardous. From the total generated waste, 85% of the waste was sustainably destined through reprocessing, recycling and reuse.

Disposal and Destination

(Total of 728,7 thousand tons GRI 306-2)
Disposal and Destination

Performance Evolution

Vale generated approximately  751.000 tons of waste in 2020, a 7,6% increase when compared to 2019. About 5,4% of these wastes are classified as hazardous.

Generation of non-mineral waste

(in thousand tons) GRI 306-2

Generation of non-mineral wasteGeneration of non-mineral waste

Vale destined approximately 728.7 thousand tons of non-mineral waste in 2020, of which 59% had a sustainable destination, through reprocessing, recycling and reuse:

Global Disposal and Destination

(in thousand tons) GRI 306-2

Global Disposal and DestinationGlobal Disposal and Destination


Total mineral and metallurgical waste
(In million tons)
Total mineral and metallurgical wasteTotal mineral and metallurgical waste

Goals

Vale Unit Indicator / KPI
Malasya Reduction of generation of hazardous waste
Procurement Increase of sustainable waste disposal, excluding metal waste
EFVM Reduction of waste without sustainable disposal
South / Southeast Ports Reduction of non-sustainable waste disposal
Salobo Reduction of the generation of waste with non-sustainable disposal
Onça Puma Reduction of the generation of hazardous waste with non-sustainable disposal

Malasya

Vale Unit
Malasya
Indicator / KPI
Reduction of generation of hazardous waste

Supplies

Vale Unit
Supplies
Indicator / KPI
Increase of sustainable waste disposal, excluding metal waste

EFVM

Vale Unit
EFVM
Indicator / KPI
Reduction of waste without sustainable disposal

South / Southeast Ports

Vale Unit
South / Southeast Ports
Indicator / KPI
Reduction of non-sustainable waste disposal

Salobo

Vale Unit
Salobo
Indicator / KPI
Reduction of the generation of waste with non-sustainable disposal

Onça Puma

Vale Unit
Onça Puma
Indicator / KPI
Reduction of the generation of hazardous waste with non-sustainable disposal

Our Management

Vale has an environmental technology area that develops projects for the waste recovery with the operational areas. Each operational unit must unfold and adapted its waste management to its local reality and culture, seeking specific goals to meet its priorities and considering the Vale Waste Management Plan.

The programs targets are mainly focused on two indicators: reduction of generation and increase of sustainable destination, such as composting, reuse, re-refining and recycling, valuing the use and seeking to reduce the disposal of waste in landfills, in compliance with SDG 12 -Responsible Consumption and Production.


Risks Overview

As a way to control the destination of waste in Brazil, Vale created the Waste Recipient Audits Program, in which all companies that receive waste from Vale Brazil undergo an environmental assessment and auditing process within a maximum period of three years. During 2019, 61 audits were carried out, for a total of 265 companies actively registered.

Business Case

Wood packaging reuse (Mina de Carajás)

At Carajás mine, located in the city of Parauapebas (PA), in the Amazon region, in partnership with a local company, Vale has developed a project to reuse wood packaging waste in boilers for energy generation, to reduce final disposal in landfills. In 2019, 1,270 tons of wood waste was destined for reuse, and in 2020, it was 505 tons, with a decrease due to logistics and Covid-19 pandemic restrictions.

Used oil regeneration (Carajás Mine)

Vale has implemented a used refrigeration oil regeneration unit at its Carajás Waste Materials Management Center (CMD). The process consists of a previous analysis of the oils at the generating source and the subsequent collection, filtering, regeneration, and oils return for use by the maintenance workshops. In 2019, approximately 970,000 liters have already been regenerated and 940,000 liters in 2020, showing the project's great success, since it represented a significant reduction in the purchase of new oils by the operational unit's maintenance areas.

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) destination

Vale has developed actions to speed up the environmentally appropriate destination of waste containing polychlorinated biphenyls, known as PCBs, in all its operational units. PCBs are considered environmental contaminants, impacting health and ecosystems.

Based on the company's international commitments and safety and environment values, a process was established to identify potential sources of PCB-contaminated oils at Vale's operations units. The demands were consolidated and a gradual final destination process was established, aligning the maintenance cycles of the electric equipments with the pursuit of anticipating the PCB destination goals.

These actions also aim to anticipate the elimination of PCB use, a goal of the Stockholm Convention, which is foreseen by 2025, besides ensuring their environmentally adequate final disposal by 2028. By 2020, more than 200 tons of PCB  waste was disposed of and more than 12,000 liters of transformer equipament oils were regenerated and classified as uncontaminated.

Haul trucks tire recycling

Vale sends haul trucks tires scrap generated by its operations in Pará and Minas Gerais, Brazil, to recycling companies. Recycling these tires is a big challenge due to their size - they can measure over than 4 meters in diameter - and also due to the resistance of the internal steel mesh, which makes them very difficult to handle and cut for recycling. Approximately 9,000 tons of tires are recycled per year.

The Scrap metal is converted into material for the rebar production used in construction.
The tires are used to produce lagging rubber sheets or turned into rubber chips, which can be used by the automobile and cement industries.

Utilization of packaging wood (Cooperative development in São Luis/MA)

At Ponta da Madeira port terminal, Vale has developed a project to support the implementation and development of the Vila Maranhão Labor, Collection and Waste Recovery Cooperative (CoopVila). The social project is developed with the local residents of Vila Maranhão, neighboring Vale's operations in São Luís (MA). In 2019, 1,504 tons of wood waste were destined, and in 2020, 1,140 tons were destined.

 The project is a great example of the combined action of the development of a local cooperative and the use of packaging wood waste to manufacture wooden pieces and furniture, reducing the final disposal to landfills and generating income for the local community.

Fostering the circular economy

In November 2020, Vale inaugurated the Pico Block Factory, the first pilot plant for civil construction products whose main raw material is tailings from mining activities. Located at Pico Mine in the municipality of Itabirito, Minas Gerais, the plant will promote a circular economy in the iron ore processing operations.

After the pilot phase period, the expectation is that, each year, approximately 30 thousand tons of waste will no longer be disposed in dams or piles to be transformed iinto 3.8 million pre-molded products of wide application in the construction industry, such as interlocked floors, structural concrete blocks, and sealing blocks, among others.

Vale has been conducting tailings application studies since 2014. The company will invest about R$ 25 millions in research and technological development (R&D) in the first two years of the Pico Blocks Factory, which will have the technical cooperation of the Federal Center for Technological Education of Minas Gerais (CEFET-MG). Ten researchers from the institution will work in research during this period, including professors, laboratory technicians, and graduate, post-graduate, and technical course students.

Vale plans to replicate the block factory in other units in Minas Gerais, after the R&D phase at Mina do Pico. The company also maintains partnerships with more than 30 organizations, including universities, research centers and Brazilian and international companies, to develop solutions for the reuse of mining waste in different sectors of industry.

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