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Unmanned train to allow Vale to reopen iron ore plant at Xingu dam

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BRASILIA, June 16 (Reuters) - Brazilian miner Vale SA will be able to resume operations at its Timbopeba iron ore dry processing plant in up to two months thanks to the use of an unmanned train, the company said in a statement on Wednesday.

With the train, Timbopeba will be able to operate at least at 80% of its capacity of 33,000 tonnes of iron ore "fines" per day, the statement said.

Vale was forced to shut down the plant in the Alegria mine complex recently after labor authorities in Minas Gerais state banned activities close to the Xingu dam due to concerns of a risk of collapse.

Vale said access by workers and vehicles continues to be suspended in the flood zone of the dam due to the ban even though it remains at emergency level 2, which means there no imminent risk of rupture.

But some workers are allowed entry under strict security precautions and they will get the unmanned train going once it has been tested, which would take between one and two months, the company said.

The unmanned train will travel automatically along 16 kilometers (10 miles) of track operated by a system that can control the speed and activate the brakes, Vale said. (Reporting by Marta Nogueira; editing by Richard Pullin)

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