- Despite two major deadly mining disasters since 2015, Brazilian iron ore miner Vale SA VALE3.SA has not complied with a number of commitments signed with authorities to prevent a third disaster, federal prosecutor Edison Vitorelli told Reuters.
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“If only these events were isolated, but they are not. All the 29 dams are problematic and Vale has been disobeying the agreements to this date,” he added.On Tuesday, the Brazilian miner said it plans to grow production capacity to 400 million tons of iron ore per year by 2022, up from 318 million today. Of that, Vale said it expects 54 million tons of annual capacity to come from the state of Minas Gerais where the two mining disasters happened. Future actions from prosecutors potentially put some of that output increase at risk. The task force says Vale’s response to six dams around its mines at Fabrica, Vargem Grande and Itabira are high risk and that the company’s response to improve safety has been inadequate. For example, during a routine inspection by prosecutors in July 2019 at Itabira, auditors noticed cracks at the Itabiruçu dam. One of the cracks, they said in a written report, was 1.87-meter (6.1-ft) deep. The dam’s stability, moreover, was being monitored with equipment that produced inaccurate data or had a delay. The miner in response to this allegation, invested 34 million reais ($6.33 million) in new inspection equipment, according to prosecutors. Three months after the visit, it increased the security level of the dam and reduced production levels, according to a previous company statement. More recently, the external auditors reprimanded the company over dams that store mining waste from the Fabrica complex. The task force said the company failed to replace a video camera that monitors safety, which had been allegedly stolen from Forquilha III, leaving the dam without proper monitoring since July 27. Vale disputes the allegation and says the dam was never left without monitoring.
“The company awaits external complaints before reacting, and this is systemic,” the prosecutor said.
($1 = 5.3696 reais)
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