Made up of the Tico-Tico and Ipê mines, the Serra Azul Unit, located in Minas’s Iron Quadrangle, has an installed production capacity of 8.7 million tons of iron ore per year.
Currently, the Serra Azul Unit processes iron ore extracted from friable itabirite. The final products are lump (granulated ore, ready to be transformed into steel), sinter feed (fine ore) and pellet feed (finer ore, used in the manufacture of pellets).
The Serra Azul Unit has a magnetic concentration plant, which has made it possible to recover 16 million tons of iron ore fines, previously stocked as tailings. Today, this material supplies the magnetic concentration plant, whose installed capacity is 1.2 million tons per year.
The iron ore from the Serra Azul Unit goes to domestic consumers, such as large mining companies, steel mills and pig-iron producers located in the State of Minas Gerais, in addition to customers outside of Brazil. Today, export capacity runs at one million tons of iron ore per year.
With planned investment of R$ 4,8 billion, the Serra Azul Unit's production capacity will reach 29 million tons of iron ore per year. The forecast is that the new plant at the Serra Azul Unit will be operational by 2014. The new Serra Azul Unit plant will be the first in Brazil capable of processing compact itabirite, a type of rock which is abundant in the region, and previously considered as reject.
For the shipping of production, the new iron ore processing plant will have a slurry pipeline approximately seven kilometers long, which will link the mine to the company’s new rail terminal, which will be built along side the MRS railroad. The project also envisages water pipelines and a power transmission structure.
In April 2012, the Minas Gerais State Council for Environmental Policy (Copam) approved the Installation License (LI), which ensured the beginning of construction work for the expansion of the Serra Azul Unit. Work started in May and will last approximately 24 months.
Pau de Vinho Mine
In February 2011, MMX acquired the extraction rights for 30 years for the Pau de Vinho Mine owned by Usiminas, located in an area contiguous to the Serra Azul Unit. This partnership will allow MMX to operate with greater synergy in the area, using machinery and buildings at Serra Azul.
MMX expects to produce eight million tons of iron ore from the Pau de Vinho Mine. Of this total, seven million tpy will be added to the company's production and one million tpy will be delivered to Mineração Usiminas. The agreement is for MMX to keep 86.5% of production and Mineração Usiminas 13.5%.
In a report released in August 2011, SRK Consulting reported inferred resources of 810 million tons of iron ore and mineral potential of up to 75 million tons of iron ore at the location.