In 2010, when Vallourec Mineração (VMN) iron ore waste disposal Project detected the need for the first upstream heightening of the Cachoeirinha Waste Dam, an in-house technical team started a series of researches seeking for innovation through new Technologies that would eliminate the stability risks associated to the traditional method. It was identified, at that time, the opportunity to use the equipment called Filter Press to withdraw water from tailings and to allow for piling the drained waste. This solution was implemented and, thus, the need for dam disposal was eliminated, inaugurating then at Vallourec the Zero Waste Dam concept.
The dewatering module by Filter Press began operations at Vallourec – Pau Branco Mine – in November 2015. The company was the first in the world to use Filter Press aiming at piling iron ore drained waste, attributing to the Corporation for breaking the technical-finance feasibility paradigm of iron ore waste filtering compared to conventional dams use. The sustainability bias of the solution deserves even more prominence since this practice avoids the set up of new dams and heightening of the existing dams. This implementation directly benefits society, the environment, and the Company itself, as it ensures operational continuity and business feasibility based on a highly sustainable process.
As it does not use waste dam any longer, Vallourec will invest in the set up of a new filtering module with the dewatering capacity of 150 ton per hour. Service rendering contract has already been signed and works are predicted to start in January 2019, with tests in May of the same year. "The major goals of our project are, primarily, to undertake the entire implementation of zero accidents, since safety is our greatest value. Additionally, we aim at installing the filter according to the project schedule, to comply with the budget baseline of the project, and to rapidly validating the equipment functioning through tests, after its installation ", explains Mr. Vanderson Ferreira, project manager.
Mining industry sustainability was positively impacted by the proposed innovation, which generated social and environmental benefits from the elimination of the need for waste dams.