Anglo American plc announces the suspension of its Minas-Rio iron ore operation in Brazil in order to conduct a full inspection of the pipeline that carries iron ore, in slurry form, from the mine to the export terminal.
Minas-Rio took the decision to suspend the operation following a minor leak that was identified in the pipeline. This leak of non-hazardous iron ore slurry was stopped within eight minutes and caused no disruption to local water supply. It occurred in close proximity to a similar leak on 12 March, near a pumping station. There were no injuries.
Specialised technical equipment will now be used to identify any other areas of potential weakness within the pipeline. Due to the length of the pipeline and the priority of ensuring the protection of the natural environment, the current expectation is that it will take approximately 90 days for the full inspection to be completed during which time operations at Minas-Rio will remain suspended.
Minas Rio produced 17m tonnes of iron ore last year and is one of Anglo’s key assets. It is looking to increase output to 26.5m tonnes by 2019 following receipt of permits to expand the operation to full capacity.
Miners are facing increased scrutiny in Brazil where memories of the 2015 Samarco disaster, which killed as many as 19 people, are still fresh. A ruptured tailings dam at a mine operated by BHP Billiton and Vale sent millions of gallons of sludge into a river valley.