The Brazilian Superior Court of Justice (STJ) ruled on Thursday to reestablish a decision that prevents the resumption of activities in the Norte Larajeiras dam, owned by Vale, in Minas Gerais state.
The company slashed output from its Brucutu mine —Vale’s biggest mine in Minas Gerais state —in December to evaluate the stability of the dam.
The STJ’s recent decision was based on new information provided by the Federal Public Ministry (MPF), which reported a risk of rupture at Norte Laranjeiras.
A recent report by the National Mining Agency (ANM) found “uncertainties about the geomechanical behavior of the dam and its foundation and the existence of low-strength materials in the structure.”
The MPF reported that a study carried out at the site demonstrated “the appearance of cracks in the structure of the dam, the causes of which have not yet been identified.”
With the STJ’s decision, a decision by the state court that had suspended the dam’s operation in 2019 was reestablished.
Vale said in a press release that the decision has no practical effect since it has already inactivated the Norte Laranjeiras dam.
“Vale continues to carry out studies and monitor the conditions of the structure, as well as works to improve dam safety,” said the miner.
Brucutu, which has an annual capacity of 30 million tonnes of iron ore, has been producing at an annual rate of only 10 million tonnes.