Brazil to announce new charges against Vale for mine disaster

The aftermath of the disaster in Brumardinho after Vale’s tailings dam collapsed. Photo by Vinícius Mendonça/Ibama, Wikimedia Commons.

Brazilian state prosecutors will announce a complaint against Vale SA, a contractor and 16 individuals for crimes related to the massive dam collapse that killed more than 250 people in Brazil last January.

The prosecutors tweeted about their plans and announced a press conference for 3 p.m. local time. The Brumadinho disaster sent a deluge of mud down a mountainside in Brazil’s biggest environmental catastrophe. The incident resulted in the Vale chief executive officer stepping down and spurred Brazil’s government to review mining operations, especially the dams that are responsible for mining waste held in huge ponds.

The charges will include homicide, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing an unidentified person familiar with the investigation. The charges include executives, the newspaper said, without providing more details.

O #MPMG apresenta na tarde desta terça-feira, 21, #denúncia contra as empresas Vale e Tüv Süd e contra 16 pessoas por crimes decorrentes do rompimento da Barragem I da Mina Córrego do Feijão, em #Brumadinho, no dia 25 de janeiro, que vitimou 270 pessoas.— MPMG (@MPMG_Oficial) January 21, 2020

Vale’s American depositary receipts tumbled 1.8% to $13.39 at 11:52 a.m. in New York, poised for the biggest decline this year.

In October, Vale said it has posted $6.3 billion in expenses related to the rupture, which severely cut production and sent iron-ore prices on a rollercoaster. The company lost about a fourth of its market value in the immediate aftermath, but it has since largely recovered.

A report released in December from a panel of experts commissioned by Vale blamed faulty design for the dam’s collapse. The facility was too steep and had insufficient drainage, resulting in high water levels that put stress on the structure, according to the report.

It was not the first collapse of a Brazilian tailings dam. On Nov. 5, 2015, a tailings dam operated by a venture co-owned by Vale burst near a Mariana municipality, killing 19. Prosecutors filed charges against 21 people in 2016 as a result.

In September, Brazilian police indicted Vale, the testing service TUV SUD and 13 employees of the two companies for producing misleading documents about the safety of the dam that buried the community of Brumadinho, in Minas Gerais state.

(By Sabrina Valle)



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