Brazilian mining giant Vale said Wednesday it has received a preliminary environmental license for its massive Carajas S11D project, which includes an iron ore mine and a processing plant and is located in the northern Amazon state of Para.

Vale says the project, with an initial annual production capacity of 90 million metric tons, is the largest in its history and also in the iron ore industry.

The project is "our major lever for production capacity growth and for maintaining Vale's undisputed leadership in the global market in terms of volume, cost and quality," the company said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Vale, the world's largest iron ore producer and exporter, said the license attests to Carajas S11D's environmental feasibility but does not mark the final phase in the environmental licensing process.

It noted that start-up of the $8.04 billion capex project in Para, where the bulk of Vale's reserves are located, is scheduled for the second half of 2016.

The reserves discovered in that deposit ensure average annual production of 90 million metric tons with average ferrous content of 66.48 percent and low concentration of impurities, the filing said.

The S11D project will require Vale to make additional investments of $11.4 billion in infrastructure and logistics, including a new maritime terminal with the capacity to handle 230 million tons of iron ore annually.

To obtain the license, Vale pledged to adopt technological solutions that guarantee sustainable use of natural resources and a reduction in the emission of contaminants.

As part of this commitment, conveyer belts will be used instead of trucks to transport the iron ore to the processing plant; the mineral also will be processed using its natural moisture (without the use of water), reducing electricity consumption and eliminating the need for a tailings dam.

These technologies will result in 93 percent and 77 percent reductions, respectively, in water and fuel consumption, thereby ensuring a 50 percent drop in the emission of greenhouse gases.

Vale's shares are traded on the Sao Paulo, New York, Hong Kong, Paris and Madrid stock exchanges. EFE