Vale has been granted an environmental installation license for its iron ore project Carajás S11D, the highest-grade, lowest-cost world-class project in the industry, according to company officials.

Through the license, Vale’s directors approved the complete S11D program, comprised of mine investments, a processing plant, railway capacity and port, company representatives added. The approval lies within the project’s second licensing phase, authorizing plant construction.

S11D is the largest project in Vale history and in the iron ore industry itself. The asset is a major value creation lever for growth capacity and market share maintenance, said Vale. The total S11D value is $19.6 billion, encompassing mine and processing plant development and logistics—each one worth $8 billion and $11.5 billion, respectively.

The project has a nominal 90 million metric tons per year (mt/y) iron ore capacity with proven reserves of 4.240 billion mt, and an average ferrous content of 66.7%, low impurities and estimated cash cost of $15/mt. S11D is expected to start-up by Q3 2016 and deliver full capacity production by 2018.

Carajás iron ore has lower operating costs and higher value for the steel industry because it implies higher productivity, and lower fuel consumption and carbon emissions. The S11D asset, according to Vale, will create added value through the future development of low-cost brownfield projects.