Vale expects to pay $1.65 billion in Brumadinho reparations in 2022

The tailings dam failure on Jan. 25, 2019, killed 257 people and left 13 others missing for an assumed death toll of 270. (Image courtesy of Vinícius Mendonça | Ibama.)

Brazil’s Vale expects to spend about 9 billion reais ($1.65 billion) in 2022 on reparations related to the Brumadinho dam burst, the company’s special director of repair and development, Marcelo Klein, told Reuters on Friday.

That amount does not include the figure the company will spend in individual compensations, which are being negotiated.

The Jan. 25, 2019 tailings dam burst, in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, unleashed a wave of mud that left 270 dead, while also ravaging local forests, rivers and communities.

Among the company’s top priorities for the year, according to Klein, is to help firefighters find the bodies of the last victims of the disaster.

In addition, he said Vale is seeking to regain the trust of society, delivering not only compensations for the tragedy, but also participating in the construction of improvements in the development of the regions where it operates, he added.

“We need to work on this relationship of trust that has been shaken, destroyed … we are building a path to honor the people who died,” he said in a video interview.

Since 2019, the company has disbursed some 18 billion reais in reparations and compensation for social and environmental damage, according to Klein.

In addition, nearly 12,000 people have entered into civil and labor compensation agreements with Vale, resulting in the payment of more than 2.6 billion reais.

Last year, the mining company signed a full reparation agreement with the government of Minas Gerais, the state and federal public prosecutors and the public defender’s office that governs ongoing actions, and which ended collective legal actions. The individual agreements, on the other hand, are being carried out separately.

In January 2020, state prosecutors charged Fabio Schvartsman, the former chief executive of the miner, and 15 other people with homicide for the dam disaster, but a court ruled the case should proceed through federal rather than state court.

Last week, prosecutors for the Minas Gerais state appealed to the country’s Supreme Court (STF) over a ruling that transferred the case to the federal judiciary.

In November, Brazilian police have recommended multiple criminal charges against miner Vale SA and Germany’s TUV SUD for the dam burst. Vale said it had no information that indicated the dam would fail. Federal prosecutors will now examine the police recommendations.

(By Marta Nogueira and Peter Frontini; Editing by Aurora Ellis)

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