Noise - ESG
The theme of noise and vibration is directly associated with Vale's operations located close to communities, as in the case of railroads. In these cases, the company seeks to understand and identify sources of noise or vibration, through online monitoring, and presents solutions that reduce the impact on communities, maintain legal standards whenever possible, going beyond what is established in legislation.
In 2018, for the noise topic, a total of US $ 2.1 million was spent, 73% of which on voluntary improvement projects. In 2019 approximately US $ 1.8 million has already been invested.
All projects and operations carry out a diagnosis to determine whether the environmental impact from noise and vibration is significant. The diagnosis should identify and assess at least:
The context of the region of operation;
The main generating sources of noise and vibration of the enterprise;
Receivers foreign to the enterprise, especially critical receivers (residential areas, educational and health units);
Noise and vibration levels at the receivers, considering the enterprise influence;
The potential discomfort to the receivers.
If the impact is diagnosed as significant, control and mitigation actions are established. Some examples of control and mitigation measures are: the use of dampers, attenuators, proper lubrication, enclosure, barriers, accessories to attenuate vibrations from dismantling, alteration of operating procedures etc.
After the diagnosis, a monitoring plan is established for each operational unit. The monitoring frequency considers the conditions of each environmental license and the enterprise environmental studies.
Monitoring also considers regional or local contributions in addition to Vale's activities, which can influence the noise level nuisance in a community. For this, we have appropriate physical facilities with technological equipment and software that make it possible to continuously improve our management.
As for railways, operational initiatives are systematically carried out and monitored, aiming to reduce noise, such as rail grinding, reprofiling wheelsets, installation of noise and vibration dampers (PADs) on railcar trucks and installation of rail lubrication systems. For blasting operations, fire plans include controls for mitigating environmental noise and vibration.
Environmental Control Center (ECC)
A successful case of this commitment is the Environmental Control Center (ECC) of Vale's Southern Ferrous Operations Board, located in Nova Lima (MG). Its facilities have equipment for monitoring environmental noise, seismography and air quality, and also probes for monitoring water quality. The strategy is to follow-up any abnormalities in real time, through internal limits more restrictive than the legal parameters, allowing the responsible technicians to take immediate measures to control the process and seek to avoid impacts on the environment.
Noise Reduction Plan at "Vitória to Minas" Railroad
Another example is the "Vitória to Minas" Railroad, where Vale has structuring plans for noise reduction in the operations, aiming at the acoustic comfort of the surrounding communities. Projects of acoustic sealing in urban areas, installation of acoustic coating between the railroad and the community and in load testing area are control actions implemented to mitigate these impacts.
For the Estrada Ferro Vitória Minas (EFVM), an action plan is filed annually at the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA), with initiatives that promote the reduction of noise levels. For the Carajás Railway (EFC), there is an environmental monitoring initiative covered by the Basic Environmental Plan, developed in the renewal of the railway operating license.
EFVM develops an action plan to reduce noise levels, which in 2019 involves the construction of acoustic barriers in critical locations, grinding of rails and installation of metal rubber dampers in the wagon trucks of the ore fleet. Other actions are applied to routine practices, such as acoustic signaling, inspection and maintenance of impact points and monitoring campaigns. The results of these changes are expected to be applicable in 2020.