Brazil has the capacity to meet the growing demand for iron ore and there is currently no risk of mine closure due to the covid-19 pandemic, says Brazilian mining association (Ibram) president Flávio Penido.
The second-largest exporter of the steelmaking ingredient in the world is currently only behind US in the number of active cases and has recorded 66,800 deaths.
During the pandemic, mining has not been largely disrupted in the country. With growing demand from China, Vale’s shipments surged compared with earlier in the year.
“We have a production capacity that is being restored and that allows us to meet demand,” Penido told MINING.COM.
“Companies in Brazil have adopted strict measures to reduce infections, implementing the use of masks, reducing the number of workers on-site, cleaning facilities and testing 100% of workers,” he said.
Penido said a second wave of covid-19 still could hurt demand, especially if it occurs in China. Brazilian exports have also been benefited by the devaluation of the Real in 2020 ($1 = 5.35 Reais).
“We don’t know for how long this exchange rate will stay. We have to be cautious. How Brazil will end up after the pandemic is still uncertain,” Penido said.
Brazil’s annual iron ore production fell from 450 million tonnes in 2018 to 410 million tonnes in 2019, impacted by the disaster at the Brumadinho tailings dam, which killed 270 people.
The country’s exports of iron ore and concentrates reached $9.4 billion in H1 2020, down 3.7% compared to H1 2019.
Before the pandemic, Ibram estimated production of 450 million tonnes in 2020. Now, the association estimates output between 400 million and 420 million tonnes.
By Bruno Venditti