Vale has produced around 250,000 tons of sand from its iron ore tailings at its Brucutu Mine in Minas Gerais, which will be sold or donated to be used in concrete, mortar, cement, and road pavement.
The company has spent seven years and about 50 million Brazilian reais (US$8.8 million) in investment and research for the process.
Vale has committed to produce more than 1 million tons of sand for sale or donation in 2022, and plans to scale up to 2 million tons in 2023.
Vale said it is using the same quality controls as it uses for iron ore production.
"This action promotes a circular economy within our units and reduces the impact of tailings disposal," Vale executive Marcello Spinelli said.
Vale produced the sand by re-processing iron ore by-products, which would normally be destined for the tailings facility, until it becomes sand.
The sand produced from the by-products has a high silica content and very low iron content. The sand also contains no hazardous materials.
Three laboratories have certified Vale's application to turn tailings materials into sand for construction and other uses.
The project is also being analysed by the University of Queensland's Sustainable Minerals Institute in Australia and the University of Geneva in Switzerland to determine whether mineral ores can be used to produce construction materials.
Other mines in Vale's Minas Gerais jurisdiction are in the process of preparing for sand production.
Vale has a road and rail network in place to transport the sand to Brazilian customers.