The waste generated in our productive process can be classified as mining and metallurgical wastes and industrial wastes.
Mining and metallurgical waste include tailings and wasterocks from mining and the slag generated in nickel and manganese metallurgical processes.
The industrial waste management, on the other hand, encompasses the segregation, collection, valorization, and destination of rubber, plastic, used oil, contaminated waste, wood, metallic scraps, and food waste, among others.
This is very important classification mainly due to the waste generation scale, the specific regulations, and the different methodologies for mining and metallurgical waste management and disposal, which are directly related to mineral reserves and to the mining, ore processing, and metallurgical technologies adopted in the processes, whose sustainable management is one of the a majors challenges in the mining sector.
By the end of 2020, Vale published its Mining and metallurgical waste management Policy, milestone that strengthens the efforts already made by the company and gives guidance for investments to encourage an innovative circular economy, which maximizes the use of materials and fosters new value chains.
In order to contribute to the waste reduction and reuse, as well as reducing environmental and social disposal risks, Vale's policy focuses on three main areas of action:
In cases where there is no feasible alternative, tailings are disposed in dams, in compliance with all the governance and safety guidelines established in Vale's Policy for the Dams Safety and Geotechnical Mining Structures. For more information related to Control and Management of Dams access
Vale intends to evolve to the dry processing model (natural humidity) in iron ore production and, to reach 70% (seventy percent) of dry processing by 2024, where geological and technical conditions are appropriate.
*Other businesses include waste rock and tailings from mining Nickel, Manganese, Coal and Copper and slag (Manganese alloy).
Vale has an environmental technology area which develops industrial waste valorization projects jointly with the operational areas. Our waste management focuses on:
Each operational unit deploys its waste management program adapted to its local reality and culture, pursuing specific goals to achieve its priorities and in compliance with the Vale Waste Management Plan.
The goals of the programs are focused mainly on two indicators:
In 2021, Vale disposed of 537 tons of non-mineral waste - with 57% of the total having a sustainable destination, that is, it was destined for reprocessing, recycling and/or reuse.
*External landfill, internal landfill, disposal in waste rock piles and subsoil
** Co-processing, incineration and biological treatment
As a way of controlling the destination of waste in Brazil, Vale created the Waste Recipient Audits Program. All the companies that receive waste from Vale undergo an environmental assessment and auditing process within a maximum period of three years.
In 2020, 226 companies appear in our active register and 55 audits of new suppliers or renewals of companies already registered were carried out.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The integrated planning of all the steps in the mine life cycle strengthens our risk management processes
Our commitment is to reduce water collection by 10% by 2030