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Mining in Brazil – statistics & facts

Being home to the second-largest iron reserves in the world , the fourth-largest bauxite reserves, and the sixth-largest gold reserves, the bedrock of Brazil’s prominent mineral industry is mainly metallic ores. While this country’s mining industry dates back to the quest for gold in colonial times and was one of the main contributors to the inland territorial occupation, its historic economic importance is still very much present to date. Mineral mining production in Brazil reached nearly 40 billion U.S. dollars in 2019 and generated over 195 thousand direct jobs. Throughout the years, the sector has become imperative to the growth of the local economy, especially in the states of Pará and Minas Gerais.

A rusty red iron ore kingdom

Despite its diverse wealth of resources, iron ore is undoubtedly the backbone of Brazil’s mining success. In 2018, iron exports alone made up double the value of all other mineral exports from Brazil combined. In the following year, the South American country contributed with approximately one fifth of the global iron ore output. The history behind this metal’s predominance is tightly connected to that of Brazilian multinational mining company, Vale. The company – whose operations originally concentrated in the state of Minas Gerais – is also the sole proprietor of the Carajás mine, the largest iron mine in the world, located in the northern state of Pará. Overall, it contributes with more than 300 million metric tons of iron ore, annually. Ultimately, this ties into Vale’s overarching margin as the leading mining and metallurgical company in Brazil and one of the greatest iron producers in the world.

Minas Gerais, a land of riches

Nevertheless, aside from the prominence of the Carajás mine in Pará, Minas Gerais remains the largest iron ore producing state in the country, making up more than half of the national iron ore production. In fact, this state’s fertile resource environment is what first warranted its name back in the early 1700’s, which translates from Portuguese to “general mines”. Centuries following the discovery of gold in the region, the state still leads in this precious metal’s production, as well as in the Brazilian production of bauxite and niobium. In turn, Minas Gerais has been the attraction of many mining and metallurgical companies in the country, such as Vale, CBMM, ArcelorMittal Brasil and Usiminas, living up to its name until this day.

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Mining in Brazil

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Iron ore




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