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Our approach to biodiversity management

We use the impact mitigation hierarchy to manage impacts from our operations while generating scientific knowledge and results that set a benchmark for the entire industry and other players.  

Through partnerships and active engagement, we aim to not only manage negative impacts but also generate positive ones both within our operations and beyond our fencelines, extending our reach. 

As a cross-cutting topic, Vale’s nature and biodiversity stewardship practices are governed by our Sustainability Policy. This policy is designed to anticipate and minimize risks and negative impacts while maximizing positive ones, creating social, environmental, and economic value that extends beyond our core activities.  The guiding principle of this policy is to build a nature related business with positive outcomes for a nature positive future through investments in impact mitigation, restoration, conservation and research, integrating biodiversity, climate, water, and people. Governance is integral to Vale’s management structure, which includes a statutory Sustainability Committee that supports the Board of Directors, in addition to other high-level processes and instruments (for further details, refer to Governance). 

Biodiversity stewardship is incorporated in requirements within the Vale Production System (VPS). These requirements are based on internal standards outlining guidelines and processes for effective biodiversity management. Published in 2020, our internal standards are applicable to all projects and operations across the stages of planning, implementation, operation, and closure. Developed based on the impact mitigation hierarchy, these guidelines and processes support us in meeting our related commitments.  

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Targets and commitments

As part of our 2030 agenda commitments, we have set targets aimed at addressing environmental pressures (such as reducing emissions and reduce freshwater withdrawal), as well as a Forest Target to restore and protect an additional 500,000 hectares beyond our fencelines. The target is broken down into two objectives: to recover 100,000 hectares, through the development and support of businesses with social and environmental positive impact, and to protect 400,000 hectares through partnerships. This commitment is voluntary and above and beyond legal requirements, contributing to a nature-positive future.  

The Vale Natural Reserve (VNR) and the Fundo Vale are responsible for implementing the Forest Target. The VNR, a protected area owned by Vale in Espírito Santo, Brazil, is one of the largest remnants of Atlantic Forest, boasting over 23,000 hectares of protected wilderness and more than 40 years of experience in conservation, research, and collaborative partnerships. The Vale Fund is a development and investment fund established in 2009 to generate positive socio-environmental impact. 

In our efforts to protect 400,000 hectares of forests, we are applying the same successful model employed in the Amazon and the Atlantic Forest for nearly four decades. This model leverages expertise and lessons learned from the VNR and partnerships with other public protected areas to support conservation initiatives. In 2022, we began to explore alternative protection methods, such as REDD+ projects, to achieve greater alignment with our climate-related commitments. As of 2022, we had 165,000 hectares of protected areas under management through partnerships with government agencies and REDD+ projects. 

To restore 100,000 hectares of forests, the Vale Fund has built a broad network of partners and social and environmental impact business arrangements, with a particular focus on agroforestry systems. These systems enhance landscape permeability, sequester carbon, and create job and income opportunities for local communities. As of 2022, we have supported the development of five agroforestry businesses implementing regenerative models across an area exceeding 7,000 hectares. 

Progress on Forest Target as of 2022 

From the 500,000 hectares, by 2022 we have met the equivalent of about 34% of the target, with 165,092ha of protection and 7,392 ha of restoration.  

Scope of Forest Target Initiatives 

No Net Loss Commitment

We have a long-term goal to prevent and offset significant impacts in greenfield and brownfield projects sited in areas of high biodiversity value, supporting our commitment to achieve No Net Loss and, whenever feasible, generate a Net Positive Impact.  

Our approach consists of assessing biodiversity risks and prioritizing attributes as a basis for building new Action Plans and Management Plans and improving existing once.  

The Pilot Management Plan for our S11D Mine in Carajás, developed in collaboration with The Biodiversity Consultancy (TBC), has enabled us to deepen our understanding of and adapt the Performance Standards of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), to our specific circumstances. In 2020, we published an internal standard that outlines guidelines and processes for biodiversity management: 

Overview of processes outlined in biodiversity management standard

In 2022, we published our Biodiversity Management Plan for Carajás, including risk assessments, prioritized attributes and integrated initiatives spanning all projects and operations in the region, informing our territorial management approach. As of 2022, nine projects and five operations were compliant with the standard, with over 980 employees trained.  

Learn more about our journey to achieve No Net Loss in our 2021 Vale & Biodiversity report

Biodiversity management in Carajás 

Vale’s Carajás Biodiversity Management Plan integrates risk management with impact management practices. The plan drew on insights gained in a pilot for the S11D Mine, as detailed in our 2021 Vale & Biodiversity report.  

Changes to the S11D layout have successfully avoided the deforestation of a thousand hectares of forests. Thanks to substantial investments in technology and innovation, we have achieved a 70% reduction in fuel consumption, a 50% decrease in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and a 93% reduction in water consumption.  

Through our restoration initiatives, we have connected previously islanded forest patches by bridging the gaps created by disturbed land. Nearly a million seedlings have been planted, restoring over 5,000 hectares of forests. Ongoing monitoring of these areas has identified the presence of apex predators such as jaguars (Panthera onca) and ocelots (Leopardus pardalis), indicating a reestablished of biodiversity in these areas.  

Our offsets plan has focused on preserving caves and ironstone outcrops. In the Tarzan and Bocaina ridges, we have supported ICMBio (Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation) in establishing and protecting the Carajás Campos Ferruginosos National Park. 
Onça pintada. Photo: Leonardo Mercon
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Commitment not to operate in UNESCO natural heritage sites

In 2021, we publicly reaffirmed our commitment not to operate in UNESCO world natural heritage sites. This commitment is an overarching principle within our internal standard, "Biodiversity Management Guidelines and Processes.” It is important to note that we do not have any projects or operations in UNESCO-designated areas. 

Vale has supported the protection of an important heritage site — the Discovery Coast Atlantic Forest Reserves — through conservation efforts led by the Vale Natural Reserve (VNR) and the Sooretama Biological Reserve (REBio).  

The RNV, a property owned by Vale in Espírito Santo (Brazil), covers 23,000 hectares of Atlantic Forest set aside for voluntary protection and research. The Sooretama Biological Reserve is a federally protected area adjacent to the VNR, with which we have partnered to support conservation initiatives. Together, they constitute the largest continuous expanse of Atlantic Forest remnants in the state, covering approximately 50,000 hectares and providing a protected habitat for threatened and endemic species. 

Our dependencies and impacts 

We seek to implement gold-standard methods, technologies, and actions to minimize interference with natural resources. Nevertheless, our operations can generate both direct and indirect impacts on biodiversity.  

To identify and evaluate these impacts, we conduct assessments that span from pre-entry site planning to final project design, in which we assess potential interferences with natural heritage sites, protected areas, as well as ecologically sensitive habitats and species. All brownfield and greenfield projects undergo environmental impact assessments complying with the laws and regulations of the host country and region. 

Based on the impact mitigation hierarchy, we implement avoidance, control, mitigation, restoration and offset measures aiming to reduce or neutralize our impacts while incorporating conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services into our activities. We ensure our operations are compliant with all legal requirements and, whenever feasible, we seek to implement additional initiatives focused on restoration, conservation, and landscape enhancement. 

Based on an assessment of our operational sites and annual reporting on our performance against indicators, our primary impacts include changes in land use and vegetation cover resulting in localized loss of vegetation and reduction or alteration of wildlife habitat. In 2022, the total area affected by Vale's operations was 87,731 hectares (our footprint). This figure includes areas already modified for the development of our operations and those that have received formal authorization from environmental regulatory bodies for development/operation. Much of these areas are located in Brazil, affecting the Amazon and Atlantic Forest biomes. 

Part of our operations in Brazil, in the states of Pará and Minas Gerais, overlap with protected areas categorized by the National System of Conservation Units (SNUC, in Portuguese). The  areas are associated with Vale’s operations in Carajás, Pará, within the Carajás National Forest and the Tapirapé Aquiri National Forest — two sustainable-use protected areas (International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Category VI)  whose legal creation decrees allow the company's activities. Our operations in the Iron Quadrangle region of Minas Gerais intersect with the South Environmental Protection Area in the Belo Horizonte Metropolitan Region (APA Sul RMBH), a sustainable use protected landscape (IUCN Category V), whose legal creation decrees allow the company's activities. 
Extent of land use change in areas of high biodiversity value (GRI 304-1 / 2022)  Hectares
Total affected area 
87,731 
Total affected wilderness area 
43,487 
Total affected area in hotspots 
35,699 
Land-use change overlapping protected areas 
30,054 
Land-use change adjacent to protected areas 
39,722 
Land-use change in priority conservation areas outside protected areas 
9,623 
Affected areas adjacent to priority conservation areas outside protected areas 
9,595 
Note: the protected areas affected by our operations are “sustainable-use protected areas” as defined by Brazilian regulations, corresponding to International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) categories V and VI, in which Vale is permitted to conduct its operations under the relevant protected area decrees. Adjacent areas are protected areas located within a 10 km buffer strip surrounding our operations. 
Protected areas adjacent to our operations are primarily protected areas owned by Vale. These include Private Natural Heritage Reserves (IUCN Category IV) that have already been established or are in the process of creation, situated in close proximity to our operational sites. Vale has also established or supports the creation of protected areas adjacent to the operations, such as the Campos Ferruginosos National Park (IUCN Category II), created as an environmental permit requirement for the S11D Eliezer Batista Mine in Carajás.  

Regarding other categories of areas of importance for biodiversity, our operations either impact or are adjacent to specific Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) and Ramsar Sites (ecologically significant areas as defined in the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance), as detailed in the following table: 
Country/Location  Type of operation  Category of importance for biodiversity¹ Position
Brazil/ Mariana 
Mine/Plant 
KBA
Contains portions
Brazil/ Ipatinga 
Logistics/railway
Ramsar Site 
Adjacent²
Brazil/ Carajás 
Logistics/railway
KBA
Contains portions
Brazil/ Carajás 
Mine/Plant 
KBA
Overlapping
Brazil/ São Luis 
Logistics/Port and Railway
Ramsar Site 
Overlapping
Brazil/ São Luis 
Logistics/Port and Railway
KBA 
Contains portions
Indonesia/ Sulawesi 
Mine/Plant 
KBA 
Contains portions
Wales/ Clydach 
Plant 
Ramsar Site 
Adjacent²
1. Sources consulted:https://www.keybiodiversityareas.org/; https://rsis.ramsar.org/; https://www.ibat-alliance.org (free IBAT Account)
2. Adjacent area means an operational site overlapping a 10 km buffer around the outer boundaries of an area of high importance for biodiversity. 
In 2022, there were 4,175 species known to occur in habitats affected by or located near Vale’s operations. Of these, 78 are threatened species within the following IUCN categories: Critically Endangered (5), Endangered (20) and Vulnerable (53). 

Operations generating significant impacts on areas of high biodiversity value require biodiversity management plans. Of the operational sites assessed in 2022, 47 (88,.7%) have been identified as requiring biodiversity management plans (GRI G4 MM2). Of these, 80.9% have biodiversity management plans in place and the remainder have plans under implementation or planned. 

Research and partnerships

Our investments in research provide a crucial science-based foundation for our impact management processes, decisions, and initiatives. To enhance and optimize research outcomes, we establish collaborations with biodiversity specialists including universities, government organizations and consultancies.  

We conduct extensive environmental research to inform effective action plans for mitigation, restoration and offsets activities, and to generate and disseminate scientific knowledge.  
Supporting our strategy is the Vale Technological Institute (ITV), a research center operating in the Amazon since 2010. Based in Belém (PA), ITV conducts world-leading research on biodiversity, habitat rehabilitation, eDNA-based monitoring, climate change and biotechnology. 

As of July 2023, ITV had made total investments of R$ 824.43 million in research, published 1,807 scientific papers, completed 225 research and development (R&D) projects, provided 333 research grants, and hosted 61 permanent researchers. 
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CDP Forests

Since 2020, Vale has responded to the CDP Forests program’s minerals and metals questionnaire, enhancing transparency around our management practices. Our focus is on managing impacts, risks, and opportunities related to biodiversity and forests. This questionnaire draws on other standards including the IFC Performance Standards of the International Finance Corporation (a member of the World Bank Group) and the Cross-Sector Biodiversity Initiative (CSBI).
 

CDP Questionnaire 2023 

CDP Questionnaire 2022 

TNFD 

The Task Force on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) has developed a set of disclosure recommendations and guidance for organizations to report and act on evolving nature-related dependencies, impacts, risks and opportunities. It takes a similar approach to that of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) and aligns with standards developed by the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB). This standard was developed based on public consultations, with the final draft released on September 19, 2023, during Climate Week in New York. 

We have been members of the TNFD Forum since 2022, actively participating in meetings and providing feedback on the TNFD Framework. We are part of a group of TNFD pilot program partners led by the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM). In addition, we are members of the Brazilian Advisory Group led by the Brazilian Business Council for Sustainable Development (CEBDS). 
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In 2022, we conducted an assessment to evaluate compliance with and gaps in applying the LEAP methodology recommendations. We completed the pilot implementation of this approach, focusing on our currently active operations in Brazil. The following are some of our key findings to date:
  • Our most material impacts relate to water usage, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and changes in the use of terrestrial ecosystems.  
  • Material dependencies center around water supply (both ground and surface), climate regulation, and erosion control.  
  • The risk assessment, which is in its final stages of completion, shows that the TNFD risk assessment methodology aligns with Vale’s risk management approach, and its language and recommendations can be readily implemented. Our primary material risks involve shifts in climate patterns, reduced water resource availability, alterations in areas of high biodiversity value, with the presence of threatened species. 

TNFD Pilot - Stages and outcomes

Note: The biodiversity disclosures presented on this page are consistent with the recommendations of the Task Force on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD). This information was reviewed in 2023.

Learn more 

Learn about Vale’s biodiversity conservation and restoration initiatives in the areas where we operate. 

Conservation and restoration

Vale actively protects and supports the protection of an area approximately 1 million hectares in size, which is 11 times larger than our operational footprint. These areas include properties owned by Vale and by third parties, protected through partnerships with environmental agencies both as a legal requirement and as a voluntary effort. They are strategically located in regions of high biodiversity value and conservation significance, such as hotspots and Key Biodiversity Areas, fostering protection for over 600 threatened species (2022 database).  

Protected Areas Supported by Vale

Protected area Location  Biome Format¹ Area (hectares)
Carajás National Forest 
Brazil (Pará)
Amazon Forest 
ICMBio Partnership 
391,004 
Tapirapé-Aquiri National Forest 
Brazil (Pará)
Amazon Forest 
ICMBio Partnership 
114,240 
Itacaiúnas National Forest 
Brazil (Pará)
Amazon Forest 
ICMBio Partnership
136,590 
Tapirapé Biological Reserve 
Brazil (Pará)
Amazon Forest 
ICMBio Partnership
99,200 
Igarapé do Gelado Protected Area 
Brazil (Pará)
Amazon Forest 
ICMBio Partnership
23,270
Carajás Campos Ferruginosos National Park 
Brazil (Pará)
Amazon Forest 
ICMBio Partnership 
22,000 
Cunhambebe State Park²
Brazil (Rio de Janeiro) 
Atlantic Forest 
INEA Partnership 
38,050 
Serra das Torres Monument²
Brazil (Espírito Santo) 
Atlantic Forest 
IEMA Partnership 
10,458
Duas Bocas Biological Reserve²
Brazil (Espírito Santo)
Atlantic Forest 
IEMA Partnership 
2,910
Goytacazes National Forest²
Brazil (Espírito Santo)
Atlantic Forest 
ICMBio Partnership 
1,425
São Luís Botanical Park
Brazil (Maranhão) 
Amazon Forest
Vale-owned
110
Vitória Botanical Park
Brazil (Espírito Santo)
Atlantic Forest
Vale-owned
30
Vale Natural Reserve
Brazil (Espírito Santo)
Atlantic Forest
Vale-owned
22,710
Sooretama Biological Reserve
Brazil (Espírito Santo)
Atlantic Forest
ICMBio Partnership
27,800
Private Natural Heritage Reserve (PNHR) in the Minas Gerais Iron Quadrangle 
Brazil (Minas Gerais)
Atlantic Forest
Vale-owned
12,800
Protected areas surrounding four small hydropower plants
Brazil (Minas Gerais)
Atlantic Forest
Vale-owned
330
Vale Eco Center
Malaysia
Sundaland 
Vale-owned
289
Augusto Ruschi Biological Reserve²
Brazil (Espírito Santo)
Atlantic Forest
ICMBio Partnership
3,598
União Biological Reserve²
Brazil (Rio de Janeiro)
Atlantic Forest
ICMBio Partnership
7,756
Mata Escura Biological Reserve²
Brazil (Minas Gerais)
Atlantic Forest
ICMBio Partnership
50,892
Total
-
-
965,462
1. Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da Biodiversidade (ICMBio); State Environmental Institute/Rio de Janeiro (INEA); State Environmental and Water Resource Institute/Espírito Santo (IEMA).
2. Areas protected as part of the partnerships of the Forest Target  

Initiatives and partnerships 

To extend the reach of Vale’s contributions for a nature-positive future, we have established restoration and conservation partnerships as part of the global journey to halt and reverse biodiversity loss and supporting initiatives related to zero illegal deforestation. In support of our Forest Target, we are working to develop partnerships and an ecosystem of nature-based businesses. 

In November 2022, at the Climate Conference (COP 27), Vale launched Biomas, a new enterprise dedicated to restoring and protecting 4 million hectares of native forests over two decades across diverse Brazilian biomes, including the Amazon, Atlantic Forest, and Cerrado. The initiative is being implemented in partnership with Itaú Unibanco, Marfrig, Rabobank, Santander, and Suzano.  
Vale actively supports the conservation of the cherry-throated tanager (Nemosia rourei), of which there are only 22 known individuals in the wild. Photo: Gustavo Magnago.
In a partnership between the Vale Fund, the Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IMAZON), Microsoft, and the Climate and Land Use Alliance, PrevisIA (in Portuguese) was launched as a public digital platform for identifying areas at increased risk for deforestation and wildfires in the Amazon. Powered by artificial intelligence, this tool aids in planning preventive actions and in policymaking.  

In 2021 Vale entered into a technical cooperation agreement with the Marcos Daniel Institute (IMD), a private non-profit association dedicated to conserving the cherry-throated tanager (Nemosia rourei), a critically endangered bird species endemic to the Atlantic Forest of Espírito Santo. The Vale Natural Reserve supports flora surveys, the restoration of disturbed land, ongoing monitoring, and nest searches, all aimed at preventing extinction and ensuring the species’ enduring survival.  
Dyckia sp, one of the species under study as part of the project. Vale
These efforts align with the National Action Plan for the Conservation of the Cherry-Throated Tanager. Currently, there are only 22 known individuals in the wild, distributed across two populations: one in the Kaetés Reserve, established with the assistance of international NGOs and managed by IMD; and another in the Augusto Ruschi Biological Reserve, managed by ICMBio and supported by Vale as part of our Forest Target. The Vale Technological Institute (ITV) is also supporting this project by conducting genome research. 

In 2022, we launched a partnership named “Rede Propagar” (in Portuguese only) with the São Paulo Agribusiness Technology Agency to research methods for the propagation and multiplication of rare and endemic plants in the ferruginous cangas of Minas Gerais. The initiative fosters collaboration among researchers from universities and Institutes of Science and Technology (ICTs), including:  
• São Paulo Agribusiness Technology Agency (APTA) 
• State University of Campinas (UNICAMP) 
• Luiz de Queiroz School of Agriculture at the University of São Paulo (ESALQ/USP) 
• Federal University of Uberlândia (UFU) 
• Federal University of Viçosa (UFV) 
• Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG)  
• State University of Feira de Santana (UEFS) 
Toward the end of 2022, the Vale Institute of Technology - Sustainable Development (ITV-DS), in partnership with Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da Biodiversidade (ICMBio) (in Portuguese), launched an innovative program to map the genomes of species of Brazilian fauna and flora that are endangered, exotic, or are potentially suitable as crops for farmers involved in bioeconomy projects. The Genomics of the Brazilian Biodiversity (GBB) is unprecedented in Brazil and is being conducted in collaboration with various national and international research institutions. Vale is investing in this initiative because we recognize the importance of local research for maintaining biodiversity in Brazil and harnessing the country’s science potential. 

Recovery and restoration indicators 

We actively work to rehabilitate disturbed land and restore habitats within our operations and properties. These measures help to address residual impacts that cannot be avoided or mitigated. In our rehabilitation and restoration efforts, we utilize seedlings produced from seeds retrieved from cleared land, helping to maintain genetic variability and preserve threatened and endemic species. Rehabilitating disturbed land is also a part of our mine closure programs.

Amount of land (owned or leased, and managed for production activities or extractive use) disturbed or rehabilitated (2022) 

Opening and closing balance¹ Hectares 
Affected areas (opening balance) 
61,233
Areas affected in the reporting year
886
Areas undergoing permanent rehabilitation in the reporting year
1,092
Affected areas (closing balance)
61,027 
1. This disclosure is presented in accordance with the Mining and Metals Sector Supplement, disclosure GRI MM1.