UPDATE 3-Brazil court orders closure of Vale's Tubarão iron ore port

jueves 21 de enero de 2016 20:20 GYT

(Rewrites first paragraph, adds Vale, Petrobras, ArcelorMittal comment, iron ore price)

By Jeb Blount and Marta Nogueira

RIO DE JANEIRO Jan 21 (Reuters) - A Brazilian federal court on Thursday ordered the suspension of activities at Vale SA's Port of Tubarão until pollution concerns are fixed, halting the world's largest iron ore exporter's ability to ship more than a third of its output.

The ruling by the court in Vitoria, Brazil was made as part of a police investigation at the giant man-made port. It comes as Vale comes under increasing pressure over its environmental record after a dam burst at a Brazilian mine run by its Samarco joint venture in October, killing at least 17 people.

The court order paralyzed imports and exports at one of the world's most important iron ore terminals. Its docks loaded 82.5 million tonnes of iron ore destined for steelmakers around the world in the first nine months of 2015, Vale said.

Vale's preferred shares, the company's most traded class of stock, reversed early gains of nearly 5 percent to fall more than 1.3 percent at the close of trading.

In addition to iron ore, Tubarão handles coal imports and steel exports for the Brazilian unit of ArcelorMittal SA , the world's largest steelmaker. ArcelorMittal said in a statement that Vale is responsible for port operations and that the closure will not have an immediate impact on its operations.

Police have said activities at Vale's iron ore dock and coal dock have resulted in iron ore and coal dust polluting the surrounding water and air and contributing to pollution in other areas, including nearby beaches.

Judge Marcus Vinicius Figueiredo de Oliveira Costa said in his ruling the suspension would remain in effect until Vale and ArcelorMittal fix the pollution problems.   Continuación...