Vale to extract construction sand from mine waste


Saint-Prex VD – The mining company Vale is supporting a project to extract mineral sand for construction purposes from mine waste. It was conducted at the University of Queensland in Australia and at the University of Geneva.

Sand produced by Vale at its Brazilian mines is a solution for sand sustainability and tailings reduction, according to studies by two universities. Vale is the world’s largest producer of iron ore. Vale International SA, the international holding company of Brazilian Vale, is headquartered in Saint-Prex. According to a media release, Australia’s University of Queensland and the University of Geneva(UNIGE) have published a report showing that sand extraction from iron ore production reduces sand removal from the natural environment and the creation of overburden. Vale provided samples of its sustainable sand produced at the Brucutu mine in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais for independent analysis.

The universities’ report, titled “Ore-sand: A potential new solution to the mining tailings and global sand sustainability crises,” examined whether sand from ore processing, described by the term ore sand, could become a sustainable source of sand while reducing the volume of tailings generated by mining operations. The mineral sand proved to be non-toxic and versatile.

Vale’s sustainable sand is a byproduct of iron ore mining, according to the release. The sandy material was previously disposed of as waste. Now it is processed into sand for construction and other purposes. Last year, Vale produced around 1 million tons of ore sand.

After water, sand is the most widely used natural resource in the world. Applications range from concrete and asphalt to the production of glass and chips for the electronics industry. By 2030, demand is expected to reach 50 billion tons per year. gba