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Brazil’s MRS says iron ore, steel railway operating normally after Vale dam burst

Operations at Brazil’s MRS railway, which transports iron ore and steel in Minas Gerais state, have been largely unaffected by the collapse of miner Vale’s Corrego do Feijao iron ore tailings dam in the same state, an MRS spokesman said Tuesday.

This means that other mines and steelworks in the region continue to produce and ship their goods as usual, the spokesman said.

However, as a safety precaution, trains on the MRS railway – also known as the “steel railway” – are running at a lower speed than recently, the spokesman added.

“The railway is fully operational,” the spokesman said. “It is only a branch line owned and operated by Vale, which connects to MRS, and Vale’s loading terminal in the area of the accident, which have been hit. So we could say the impact on MRS, in general, has been slight.”

In addition to serving iron ore mines owned by Vale, the 1,643-km long MRS network transports steel and iron ore from mines and mills operated by steelmakers Cia Siderurgica Nacional, Usiminas and Gerdau.

Minas Gerais is a major iron and steel producing state and the railway connects the mills, as well as CSN’s Volta Redonda steel mill in Rio de Janeiro state, to ports in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo states.

CSN, Vale, Usiminas and Gerdau Group are the shareholders in the railway.

A consultancy source close to steel and iron ore interests in the region said the Corrego de Feijao dam accident has directly impacted production of at the most 1 million mt/month of goods in an area in which MRS carries production of around 12 million mt/month.

“This is a small quantity which can be covered, perhaps with some difficulty, by (production) in other areas,” according to the source.

“A supply problem could, however, occur later if restrictions are introduced on the operation of dams located at other mines,” the source said. “For the time being, everything is normal except for the area affected. Few people were affected outside this area, or at the steelworks.”

Source: Platts

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