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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

Asbestos Mining and Production of Chrysotile-Containing Products Is Going Full Bore in Brazil

Some think that asbestos use is is over or dwindling all across the world. Not true.

For example, this new press release from Eternit S.A. reports on the company’s better than expected quarter of asbestos mining, and manufacturing of various asbestos-cement products.

"SAO PAULO, Aug. 9, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Eternit S.A. (BM&FBOVESPA: ETER3; OTC: ETNTY), a company with 71 years of activity and the market leader in roof coverings, panels and cement slabs, today announces its results for the 2nd quarter 2011 (2Q11).

Although 2Q11 is seasonally the weakest period of the year, Eternit operated at full capacity in its chrysotile mining business, above 90% in fiber cement production and in excess of 80% in concrete tiles.

At this page, Eternit SA’s website also provides this information on asbestos fiber production:

"Chrysotile asbestos and amphibolic asbestos There are two main groups of asbestos, chrysotile and amphibolic. Amphibolic asbestos has hard fibres which are straight and pointed, as well as having a high concentration of iron in their composition. Chrysotile asbestos has curved fibres which are silky and have a high concentration of magnesium in their composition. The characteristics of these fibres is one of bio-persistence, which signifies the amount of time that they remain in the lungs before being eliminated. Chrysotile fibre remains a maximum of two and a half days in the lungs, whereas amphibolic fibre remains more than a year.

The use, manufacture, sale and transport of asbestos in Brazil is regulated by Federal Law 9055/95, and Decree 2350/97 and by Ordinance 3214/78 – NR15 – Annex12 – ( This legislation regulates the controlled and responsible use of chrysotile asbestos and prohibits the use of all other types of asbestos. Brazil is the world’s third largest producer of chrysotile asbestos. The country today is self-sufficient in the production and export of this raw material to more than 20 countries, among them being India, Thailand, Indonesia, Mexico, Colombia and the United Arab Emirates.

To read the latest Eternit statement on the controlled and responsible use of chrysotile asbestos, click here."

The mine is online here, and is known as Cana Brava. The website tells the story as follows:

The history of the Cana Brava mine – controlled by SAMA S.A. – Minerações Associadasis confounded with the development process of the inland Brazil in the second half of the 20th Century, particularly in the Central-Western region. The first pioneers who arrived at the place, in 1962, searched for clues of strange"hairy stones" in a region occupied by a few families living along the rivers.––

Five years later, after confirming the existence of chrysotile asbestos, the mine started being exploited, contributing for the appearance of the City of Minaçu, located 510 km far from Goiânia, in the Northern State of Goiás. In addition to the city creation, the mining allowed the beginning of a process of fast economic development, with generation of wealth and employments, allied to the preservation of the natural resources.

Within a little time, Cana Brava mine provided Brazil with self-sufficiency in the production of chrysotile asbestos, exceeding the requirements of the domestic market and allowing the export of fiber to several countries.

Cana Brava is the only chrysotile asbestos mine in activity in Brazil and one of the world’s most productive mines, with installed capacity of 240 thousand tons/year, having a modern industrial park, which serves as reference for the main mining companies of the world.

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