Mining giant Vale has detailed plans for a massive expansion of its iron ore operations in the next five years.

It plans to invest more than $18bn in concentrates alone – additional sums will be invested in pellet, non-ferrous metals and steel. If approved, the projects will add at least 176Mt/y to the miner’s capacity in iron ore concentrates.

Vale said its Carajás mine may have its capacity increased by 40% by the end of 2012. This will happen in two stages: 10Mt/y will be added by next year through marginal investments of $290M; a second stage costing $2.5bn will add a further 30Mt/y by mid-2012. It means Carajás will reach 140Mt/y overall.

Also in the northern state of Pará, Vale is studying a new deposit – Carajás Serra Sul. It will be developed at a cost of about $11.3bn, although this still depends on board approval. This project could produce up to 90Mt/y by late-2013.

Vale is planning to develop and expand mines in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais as well. It expects to invest a further $3.6bn in two brownfield projects – Conceição and Vargem Grande – and one greenfield area – Apolo.

All projects in Minas Gerais, though, remain subject to approval by the company's board.