SAO PAULO, Aug 20 (Reuters) - Brazil's Vale SA, the world's largest iron ore miner, secured a preliminary license to expand its flagship Carajas mine in the northern state of Para, which should help the company win a bigger slice of the sea-borne iron ore market.
The company said in a note on Wednesday evening that Brazil's environmental regulator Ibama granted it a preliminary license for its plans to expand its N4WS, N5S, Morro I and Morro II projects at Carajas, which combined would give Vale an additional 1.8 billion tonnes in reserves.
A preliminary license gives companies the right to begin preparations for the construction of the mine build-outs. Actual construction of the mine projects will require an installation license and to begin operations will require yet another license from Ibama, but these subsequent steps are less cumbersome bureaucratically.
Vale's chief executive officer, Murilo Ferreira, said in the note that the license was an important step toward meeting milestones for increasing its output of ore.
Carajas currently has five open-pit mines: N4E, N4W, N5E and N5 Sul. As the world's largest iron ore mine, it accounts for 35 percent of Vale's annual ore output of more than 300 million tonnes.
Reporting by Reese Ewing; Editing by Lisa Shumaker