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Braizilan Prosecutor Raises Red Flag over Risks from Vale Tailing Dams

Mining News - Published on Mon, 21 Sep 2020

Image Source: Vale Tailing Dams
Brazilian federal prosecutor Mr Edison Vitorelli, who forms part of a task-force of about two dozen federal and state prosecutors who pressed charges against the company after the most recent disaster which killed 270 people in January 2019, told Reuters that 29 dams that Vale uses to store mining waste still present elevated safety risks. Mr Vitorelli said “Vale has repeatedly failed to deliver on commitments to improve on safety made following last year’s collapse of a dam near the town of Brumadinho in the state of Minas Gerais. The prosecutor task force still regards Vale’s safety approach as flawed. Thee company fails to take preventative measures, does not proactively disclose safety issues, waiting instead to be pressed by external auditors and authorities before taking action. It’s not lack time or money to meet the requirements. It’s five years since the first disaster. The problem is the company’s culture. If only these events were isolated, but they are not. All the 29 dams are problematic and Vale has been disobeying the agreements to this date.”

The task force requested earlier this month that Vale’s top executives in charge of safety operations be removed and for an external expert to be brought in to revamp the company’s strategy and culture around safety. A judge is expected to rule on the request in early October.

Their concerns come on top of a separate report by a United Nations’ expert who said Vale’s restoration projects following the dam disaster in 2015 are behind scheduled.

Vale denied the allegations in a response to Reuters. The company said it has regular meetings with the prosecutors and auditors; it promptly addresses possible risks and is on schedule to fulfill all its commitments. Vale said it has extensive documentation to prove its compliance with commitments made to prosecutors which it will present to the court.

Some of the mines linked to the dams that Mr Vitorelli’s team regard as unsafe are vital to Vale’s plans to recover lost iron ore production and grow capacity. Vale plans to grow production capacity to 400 million tonnes of iron ore per year by 2022, up from 318 million tonnes today. Of that, Vale said it expects 54 million tonnes of annual capacity to come from the state of Minas Gerais where the two mining disasters happened. Future actions from prosecutors potentially put some of that output increase at risk.

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Posted By : Yogender Pancholi on Mon, 21 Sep 2020
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