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Photographer: Ricardo Teles
com.liferay.portal.kernel.util.DateUtil_IW@b4103ab
Photographer: Ricardo Teles

Investing in innovation, leaving the comfort zone, has become the main factor that makes our company even more competitive and profitable.

Vale has advanced in Innovation initiatives, and we recognize that we can learn from our own journey. We evolved from 166th position, in 2019, to 12th, in 2021, in the “100 Open Startups” award. We also went from 31st place to 4th in the Valor de Inovação Award in 2021, and then to 2nd place in 2022. 

Technology at Vale 

In 2021, Vale developed an internal framework based on an agile model that aims to accelerate the problem-solving process and explore opportunities from different innovation products.  

New partnership models in CoLabs format are key to strengthening our open innovation strategy. In partnership with Norcat in Canada, FIEMG Lab, and FINDES Lab in Brazil, Vale launched challenges to external actors that address some of the strategic goals. In addition, MiningHub is an example of collaboration and co-building innovative solutions in the mining industry as a whole. 24 mining companies, 700 startups, 15 large suppliers, with reach in 22 countries participate, in addition to carrying out 90 proofs of concept and signing 20 contracts between mining companies and startups.  

Photographer: Vitor Nogueira
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As part of the innovation strategy, fostering ways of working that prioritize innovative and entrepreneurial thinking, we are attentive to global market trends.

In this context, Corporate Venture initiatives are presented as a possibility to advance in open innovation, through the connection with startups and investors, with Corporate Venture Builder (CVB) and Corporate Venture Capital (CVC) being alternatives that can help Vale achieve strategic goals.  

Building an agile mindset acts as a foundation for cultural transformation so that Vale becomes an even more innovative and safe company. Several training and engagement initiatives have been implemented with results that contribute to the transformation journey. In 2021, our innovation community has grown considerably, reaching 9 internal and strategic innovation hubs. In 2022, the focus will be on increasing the maturity of the teams and fostering the democratization of agility and innovation at Vale as a whole. 

Photographer: Ricardo Teles

Learn about the goals and areas of collaboration of the six main topics 

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Safety

Dams

Low carbon

Insights across the entire value chain

Digital Workspace

Digital Inclusion

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Photographer: Ricardo Teles

Do you want to know more about Open Innovation and how to participate? 


Do you have a tested and validated product or service related to any of the six main topics?

Research and development in innovation

Vale invests in initiatives and institutions focused on research and development of projects in the area of ​​innovation, related to the mining chain around the world. 

Photographer: Vitor Nogueira
Onda

Discover our projects:

Ferrous Technology Center 

The Ferrous Technology Center (CTF) is one of the most modern mining and steel technology centers in the world. We are currently one of the only mining companies in the world to maintain such a research center. With our multidisciplinary team, the center is focused on researching the use of iron ore and coal in the steel industry and ensuring the most suitable product for customers' needs. To this end, it establishes partnerships with universities and research institutions in Brazil, the United States, Germany, China and Japan. 

Mineral Development Center (CDM) 

The laboratories at the Mineral Development Center (CDM) are the cradle of Vale's operations. They begin the research work on the production and processing methods of the different types of ore. The CDM is considered the most sophisticated and complete laboratory complex dedicated to research and development in the mineral area in Latin America and one of the most modern centers for the development of mineral technology in the world. It was the first of its kind to receive ISO 14001 environmental certification and the first Vale research center in Brazil to receive ISO 17025 certification. 

Currently, CDM is researching bioleaching techniques (which uses bacteria to extract metals contained in unprocessed ores), minerals in rare earths and collaborates on studies for the use of photovoltaic panels to replace diesel consumption in mineral research projects around the world, in Andes mountain range in Chile. 

Vale Technology Environment 

The Vale Institute of Technology (ITV) was created to point out trends, opportunities or problems in the fields of science and technology, permanently seeking the best ways to offer mineral resources to modern life. 

Newsletter Mais 

The Newsletter MAIS is a publication developed to disseminate the results of research and development projects financed by Vale and conducted in partnership with institutions working in the fields of science and technology. 

The objective is to share the results of the projects with professionals who work in Vale's operations, in order to contribute to their application in the company's processes, in addition to contributing to scientific advancement. 

List of technologies patented by Vale

Device that allows the automated replacement of only a bit worn down during the drilling process, instead of having to completely replace the hammer.

Patent document: BR 10 2021 016332 1
How could we reduce frequent breakages of conveyor belt support frames? In order to solve this problem, we developed a new flexible type of frame and a method for manufacturing it.

Patent document: BR102018016476-7
Drill rod for deburring holes more safely, productively and at a lower cost.

Patent document: BR102018001919 8
Autonomous explosives truck configured to assist with the bench blasting process. The vehicle is set up to deposit explosives in blast holes in open-pit mines. It is able to automatically carry out all seven steps in the process of placing explosives, thereby eliminating human intervention.

Patent document: BR 10 2016 024215-0
System that allows auxiliary locomotives (helper engines) to couple and uncouple without the need to stop the train. The system uses an end-of-train device, GPS, laser, human-machine interface device, LCD display and other sensors/equipment to process train speed information, measure the distance between components, maintain the temperature of transducers, guarantee coupling alignment, and couple with / uncouple from the last railcar while in motion.

Patent document: PI 1009171-8
Device used to ensure the safety of rail operations, consisting of a visual signal fixed to the ground, which shows how far an item of rolling stock (locomotive, train, railcar or track equipment) can move forward without blocking convergent tracks. The invention has the secondary purpose of storing rail chocks, given that they are generally used close to points where track clearance markers are installed.

Patent document: BR102016016793-0
Device that mechanically cleans track ballast, performing this task faster and in a more practical way. It avoids excessive physical effort and exposure of operators to local weather conditions, guaranteeing better ergonomics and lower risks.

Patent document: BR102017006082-9
This monitoring system uses computational methods and synchronized cameras installed on the track, which capture images of rail wheels. These images, together with each of the camera’s calibration parameters, allow a 3D reconstruction of both sides of the rail wheel. In this way, it is possible to see whether the wheel has any deformations, bumps or irregularities.

Patent document: BR 10 2017 002219-6
System for controlling rotary car dumper, considering all elements and variables involved in the cycle and enabling maximum productivity. The system has three integrated and communicating closed-loop controls: (i) car position control; (ii) silo level control; and (iii) feeder flow control. These controls have devices (radar, encoders and inverters/converters) that collect data, which is integrated and communicated in a closed loop, adjusting the cycle time to maintain maximum productivity of equipment.

Patent document: BR102017020555-0
Device for loading bulk carriers associated with the hatch of the ship’s storage hold, eliminating the use of heavy and robust structures (such as covers and shelters) to prevent the material inside the hold from coming into contact with rainwater or other contaminants. The device is attached to the end of the shiploader’s telescopic spout and it can be installed and removed whenever necessary. It can be used whether or not it is raining. By using this device, the hold lid does not need to be opened to load the ship.

Patent document: BR102017014425-9
Device for changing return rollers on conveyor belts, allowing the operation to be carried out safely, ergonomically and efficiently. The tool is cheap to manufacture.

Patent document: BR 10 2020 016836 3
Set of guardrails designed to provide safe and economical protection throughout the sides of a conveyor belt or any other equipment that requires such protection. A high level of safety is guaranteed by the fact that the guardrails are securely attached, preventing unauthorized people from coming into contact with the protected equipment. Savings are generated by the use of only two columns and a central axis for attaching multiple guardrails. As a result, fewer structural elements are needed to cover a significant length of conveyor belt.

Patent document: BR202016022074-8
Robotic device for inspecting conveyor belt components, comprising a mobile platform equipped with wheels and tracks for movement and a robotic arm. The robotic arm has an articulated structure that can reach areas of interest and it has a vibration sensor to measure the vibrations of equipment components. The device is able to move through conveyor belt access points and overcome obstacles, going up and down stairs, as well as operating on different types of terrain, such as pavement, earth, mud, metal grids and metal sheets.

Patent document: BR202016022074-8
Tubular frame for attaching return rollers on conveyor belts. The structure’s tubular design prevents material from accumulating on it, minimizing damage to the belt, rollers and conveyor structure, especially damage caused by corrosion and bearing failures due to accumulation of dust and dirt.

Patent document: BR202018016205-0
Device for handling carrying rollers on conveyor belts, composed of two parts, which are joined together to form a beam, on which there is a steel cable with a magnetic lifter and an actuator to lift and position carrying rollers. The use of this device contributes to safety, ergonomics and practicality in the roller replacement process.

Patent document: BR 20 2018 003517-2
Tongs featuring a semi-automatic lock for fixing and tightening the side edge of a conveyor belt in the region where the belt returns. Its installation on the belt edge eliminates the use of scaffolding or similar equipment, as the tongs’ own weight is enough for it to be fitted to the edge of the belt, thereby making the process more efficient and safer.

Patent document: BR 20 2018 007150-0
Table for changing belts on conveyors, which allows their support structures to be moved from vertical to horizontal orientation, or vice versa. The belt is then fixed to the table using a special clamp. This invention also includes a method for changing belts, which makes use of the aforementioned table, significantly improving the safety, ergonomics, efficiency and productivity of this maintenance activity.

Patent document: BR 10 2019 007444 2
Portable device capable of dealing with vapors/gases generated when chemical product storage containers are washed. The invention has several pall rings inside, which are designed to create a barrier to retain the gases for a longer time inside the device so that they are solubilized and discarded via liquid effluent, and not expelled as gaseous vapors. This improves employees’ health and safety.

Patent document: BR102020002353-5
Device developed for use in the process of cooling pellets or other hot products as they are transported along conveyor belts. Using this device, it is possible to efficiently moisten and cool all the layers of products on the belt, minimizing particulate emissions while reducing the consumption of water used in the process. The device contains tubular elements that spray water over the pellets. The water flow varies along the conveyor belt’s cross section in line with the height of hot pellets on it.

Patent document: BR102016016793-0
Process for inhibiting particulate emissions based on the use of an inhibitor made from biodiesel, which has a high boiling point and does not evaporate when in contact with pellets after they leave the pellet plant furnace.

Patent document: PI0903986-4
Device designed to help remove conical bushings from many kinds of equipment, such as shafts and pulleys in industrial machinery. The device consists of a mounting frame, a fixing screw and a pneumatic cylinder. The mounting frame ensures that the device is lined up with the conical bushing. The pneumatic cylinder is configured to carry out a wedge-like movement, forcing out the conical bushing. Using this device, the operator merely has to activate the pneumatic cylinder to performs the wedge-like movement to remove the conical bushing.

Patent document: BR 102020005248-9
New wheel model for transfer wagons, possessing a wheel structure and set of segmented bands, which can be removed even when the wheel is mounted on the wheel frame, meaning that the wheel frame does not have to be removed from the wagon. This makes maintenance faster, more practical and more economical.

Patent document: BR202016005359-0
Bench for maintenance work on wheels of yard machines, rotary car dumpers and other rail machines, allowing safe and efficient maintenance. The device allows the operator to have a wide view and reach the wheel that is being maintained, since its fasteners only cover a small portion of wheels.

Patent document: BR102016024194-4
Device for taking apart motorized wagons. It is simple and practical to use, ensuring better safety and ergonomics.

Patent document: BR202018013705-6
Mobile device designed to protect cables used to lift loads. The device is attached to a cable and it travels along it until it reaches a sharp corner or edge of the load, preventing the formation of kinks in the cable.

Patent document: PI1106614-8
Automated conveyor belt drum sanding device that allows this maintenance task to be carried out in a practical, safe and more productive way.

Patent document: BR102018072931 4
Roller press for iron ore, equipped with a means for efficiency control and a method configured to maximize the roller press’ efficiency. The device is more economical, more efficient and less susceptible to human error than conventional presses.

Patent document: BR 10 2015 021252-6
Rocker for transfer wagons in large ports, with welded supports on each transverse face of its chassis to allow hydraulic cylinders to be positioned there for jacking operations. This increases safety, as it is not necessary to use makeshift supports for hydraulic cylinders in this operation.

Patent document: BR 20 2016 017300-6
Tool to move and lock exciter counterweights on vibrating screens, facilitating the replacement of exciters. The tool consists of a turning key and a locking key. The turning key comprises an arm, a shaft hole and a lifting hole, configured to rotate the exciter shaft and consequently move the counterweights. The locking key comprises an arm, a shaft hole and a cover, which is used to lock the shaft and thus prevent the counterweights from moving.

Patent document: BR 20 2018 010390 9
Apparatus for online magnetic field measurement in magnetic separators. It consists of a force transducer element fixed at one end and a metal support for the force transducer at the other end. The force transducer converts mechanical stress from the attractive force exerted by the magnetic field on the metallic support into an electrical signal representative of the magnetic field.

Patent document: BR 10 2018 012398-0
Density meter calibrator comprising a metal frame, two rectangular calibration plates, a blocking plate and an automatic controller connected to the density meter control system. The controller is connected by means of a rod attached to the metal structure, designed to move this structure in order to position one of the plates (or the gap) in front of the density meter’s radiation beams. This arrangement eliminates the risk of human exposure to radiation, work at heights, contact with pressurized pulp, and ergonomically poor posture.

Patent document: BR 20 2018 016039-2
Support device for land surveying. It consists of a rod with a handle at one end and holes at the other end. These holes can be lined up to fit and support a bolt and/or pole.

Patent document: BR 20 2019 021906 3
System for detecting pulp leaks in gaskets attached to various types of equipment that handle pulp movements. This system continually receives effluent from a gasket in a storage container through a collection chute and it monitors the mass of pulp in this storage container by means of a scale that moves internally as the mass increases. This movement is detected by a sensor that communicates with a controller, which in turn emits alerts about any pulp leakage in the gasket.

Patent document: BR 10 2020 005194 6

Vale Ventures 

Vale Ventures is an initiative to support startups around the world in the search for creative solutions to the challenges of mining and metals.

By investing in these companies and incorporating innovative technologies into our operations, we contribute to generating new business opportunities, producing knowledge and building the mining of the future. To this end, we focus on four topics: 

Photographer: Ricardo Teles

Decarbonization in the mining chain

Substantial reduction in emissions for Vale and its customers. 

Waste-free mining

Reduction of waste and the environmental impact of mining, promoting a circular economy.

Energy transition metals

Supply of essential metals and energy transition drivers.

Future Mining

Investing in disruptive technologies to create the mining of the future.
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