SEC opens preliminary probe of Vale over dam tragedy

In January, leaked tailings from Vale’s Feijao mine spread into the mine’s administrative area and to parts of the local community Vila Forteco, near the town of Brumadinho. Photo by Portal R7.com | Twitter

The US Securities and Exchange Commission has opened a preliminary investigation of iron ore miner Vale over the collapse of a Brazilian mining waste dam that killed more than 250 people in January, Brazil’s O Globo newspaper reported on Tuesday.

The US regulator decided to proceed with the probe of the Brazilian company last week after a meeting with Brazilian prosecutors and the CVM, the country’s own market watchdog, the paper reported, without citing sources.

The CVM, which has the power to impose fines and bar executives from working at listed companies, said in February it had started two administrative probes into Vale.

Vale, whose ADRs trade on the NYSE, faces at least one U.S. investor class action over the avalanche of mining waste from its tailings dam in the Brazilian town of Brumadinho in late January.

The disaster triggered the steepest drop in Vale’s share price ever in percentage terms and a global inquiry into how mining companies store billions of tonnes of mining waste in massive dams.

A Vale spokeswoman said that the miner and its executives had not received notice of any investigation by the SEC.

The SEC declined to comment.

(By Christian Plumb and Chris Prentice; Editing by Tom Brown)

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