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Our Management

Management and environmental technology

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.


Mining and metallurgical waste

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:

  1. Prioritize, in the research, design, implementation, operation, decommissioning and closure phases of projects, the best available practices for:
    • Mining and mineral processing optimization and waste internal use;
    • Reducing the risk of metal solubilization for drainage in the disposal of tailings, wasterock and slag in piles.
  2. Invest in R&D projects and in the implementation of ore processing optimization technologies and the use of wasterock, tailings and slag in new value chains.
  3. Prioritize the dry processing.

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 here.

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.

Generation of mineral and metallurgical waste in 2021: 515.3 million tons

Total mineral and metallurgical waste Total mineral and metallurgical waste

*Other businesses include waste rock and tailings from mining Nickel, Manganese, Coal and Copper and slag (Manganese alloy).

Industrial waste

Vale has an environmental technology area which develops industrial waste valorization projects jointly with the operational areas. Our waste management focuses on:

Minimization of generation, through awareness-raising in the operational areas;
Segregation;
Traceability;
Valorization, with destination actions and projects and inclusion in new supply chains and new technologies;
Appropriate destination, based on the control and development of new waste destination suppliers and strict environmental assessments processes, reducing the risks related to inadequate disposal;
Promoting the employment and income generation from recycling practices.

Goals

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:

  1. Reduction of generation and increase of environmentally adequate disposal, such as composting, reuse, re-refining and recycling;
  2. Waste reuse valorization with the objective of reducing landfill disposal, in compliance with SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production.
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

Industrial Waste Generation

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.

Generation of non-mineral waste

(in thousand tons) GRI 306-2

Generation of non-mineral waste Generation of non-mineral waste

Global Disposal and Destination

(in thousand tons) GRI 306-2

Global Disposal and Destination Global Disposal and Destination

Disposal and Destination

(Total of 537 thousand tons GRI 306-2)
Disposal and Destination

*External landfill, internal landfill, disposal in waste rock piles and subsoil

** Co-processing, incineration and biological treatment

Risks Overview

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.

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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