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Heavy rainfall is disrupting south eastern Brazil’s giant iron ore industry, with the world’s No. 2 producer Vale SA among companies to halt operations and regulators dispatched to monitor any impact on tailings dams.
Vale partially suspended services on the Estrada de Ferro Vitoria a Minas railway as well as production at its south eastern and southern systems “to guarantee the safety of its employees and communities,” the Rio de Janeiro-based supplier said in a statement Monday.
The deluge in Minas Gerais state offers fresh impetus to a recovery in global prices of the steelmaking ingredient after a decline in shipments from Brazil and Australia. It’s also sounding alarms for tailings dams given the region was the site of two disasters in the past six years including a 2019 collapse that left 270 dead and cost Vale its title of the world’s No. 1 supplier.
In December, Brazil had 40 tailings dams on emergency level, 36 of which are in Minas Gerais, according to the country’s mining regulator. Three of those — all owned by Vale — are at the highest alert of level 3.