Brazil Iron Ore: Industry Overview
Brazil has long been recognised now as one of the biggest and most exciting mining regions in the world. It has significant resources, including iron ore, bauxite, manganese and niobium. It is the world’s second largest exporter of iron ore (behind Australia), manganese and bauxite.
The majority of the mines currently existing in Brazil are open cut, which obviously therefore present the most opportunity to Australian Mining Equipment, Technology and Services (METS) companies looking to enter the Brazilian market currently. Specific categories of interest to many Brazilian miners are: mine software; mining processing technologies; Mining equipment; engineering services; ump body and transportation technologies; mine safety; environmental equipment and consulting; mining education and training services; mining research and university collaboration; mineral production concessions (including iron ore, gold, manganese, magnesium, niobium, nickel, copper, bauxite and zinc), mineral exploration (Source: Austrade).
The four biggest mining companies in Brazil are Vale, Anglo American, Samarco and CSN. Austmine’s mining mission to Brazil in September 2015 will incorporate site visits and senior executive meetings with Vale and Anglo American.
Vale is the world’s biggest producer of iron ore, with their mines concentrated predominantly in Brazil.
The Carajás Mine is the largest iron ore mine in the world and the quality of its ore is considered amongst the highest in the world. Fully owned by Vale, the mine holds up to 7.2 billion metric tonnes of iron ore in proven and probable reserves. The S11D iron ore project which will add a capacity of 90 million tons per annum, was announced as receiving final foreign investment in May 2015, and represents an expansion of the Carajás Mining Complex. This expansion will cost between $16-17billion, with $6.8 billion being invested in the new mine and processing plant infrastructure required. The operation will have a focus in reducing energy and water consumption, using technology.
Carajás is rich not only in iron ore, but also copper at the Sossego mine. Vale plans to expand its iron ore production at Itabira Complex consisting of the Conceição and Cauȇ mines from 33Mt in 2014 to 55Mt in 2018.
Anglo have developed the integrated Minas-Rio operation, which supplies iron ore pellet feed products that boast an unusually high iron content (c.67%) and very low levels of contaminants. This was one of the world’s largest iron ore projects, when it was developed. Minas-Rio – in Minas Gerais state in Brazil – is a fully integrated export iron ore operation, with the mine, beneficiation plant, 529km slurry pipeline and dedicated export facility at the port of Açu. AngloAmerican own 100% of Minas-Rio, with exception of the port facility, of which they own 50%. The first iron ore shipped from this project in October 2014, meeting both time and budgetary deadlines. Capacity ramp up is continuing over the next 6 – 12 months, and the mine has a life of mine expectancy of 28 years.