Two members of Vale’s board step down in connection to deadly dam disaster

Aerial view of the mudslide triggered by the dam burst at the Corrego do Feijao mine. (Image courtesy of St. Paul’s School, Brazil, via Twitter.)

Brazil’s Vale (NYSE: VALE), the world’s largest iron ore miner, announced on Monday the resignation of two board members in relation to a dam burst that killed more than 250 people in January, the second one of its kinds affecting the company’s operations in less than four years.

The two executives are Marcio Hamilton Ferreira, who chairs the board’s finance committee, and Marcelo Augusto Dutra, who leads the board’s compliance committee, the company said.

Their departure adds to a long list of individuals to have left Vale this year in connection to the deadly accident. Among them is former chief executive officer, Fabio Schvartsman, who has been accused of dismissing an email alerting him about the urgent need to increase safety at the Córrego do Feijão mine’s tailings storage facility.

The incident, near the town of Brumadinho, has since triggered a number of criminal investigations, a global inquiry into the status of 726 tailing dams, as well as several claims that Vale knew about the fragile state of the structure but did nothing.

Two members of Vale’s board step down in connection to deadly dam disaster

Brazil’s mining regulator (ANM) blasted Vale in November for failing to disclose Córrego do Feijão mine’s dam problems, saying this kept the agency from taking actions that could have saved lives.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission followed suit last week, opening a preliminary investigation into the company following meetings with Brazilian prosecutors and the CVM, the country’s own market watchdog.

There have been several efforts launched or boosted this year to improve dam safety, such as the setting of World Mine Tailings Failures, an online database that aims at exposing the cause of tailing dams disasters, giving direction on how to prevent them.

Despite the initiatives, there aren’t universal rules defining exactly what a tailings dam is, how to build one and how to care for it after it is decommissioned.