SAO PAULO, Oct 21 (Reuters) - Brazilian iron ore miner Vale said on Monday it has temporarily shut down its Itabiruçu tailings dam and lowered its full year iron ore and pellet sales guidance as a result.
Vale said it had shut down the dam so it could assess the structure’s “geotechnical characteristics”, noting the dam was issued a stability certificate in late September.
The company said it was now expecting full year iron ore and pellet sales between the lower end and the midpoint of its previously announced range of 307 to 332 million tonnes. Before the dam shutdown, Vale had said it expected sales to be at the midpoint of that range.
Vale said the assessment of the dam would be conducted within 30 days, and that the impact on production would be limited to 1.2 million tonnes.
The company’s statement did not detail when it expected the dam to reopen and a spokeswoman could not immediately be reached for comment.
Vale said the “Level 1” emergency protocol for the shutdown did not entail the evacuation of any nearby homes.
The suspension follows Vale’s halt in late July of a separate effort to expand the dam to boost its capacity. The dam already holds at least 10 times the amount of waste spilled in the deadly collapse of Vale’s Brumadinho mine in January.
Vale said a wider plan to eventually resume production of 50 million tonnes of production capacity lost after the Brumadinho disaster would still go ahead as planned. (Reporting By Christian Plumb and Roberto Samora; editing by Jane Wardell)