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Upstream tailings dam prohibition order

the brumadinho tragedy has resulted in removal of vale from corporate human rights benchmark

The Brazilian Government has reacted to the latest Vale Feijiao upstream tailings dam disaster by prohibiting upstream tailings dams. In the body count, 169 people are confirmed dead and many more are still missing following the January 25th disaster. Authorities are now stating some bodies may never be recovered.

The upstream tailings dams will need to be decommissioned or removed by August 2021, according to a resolution the National Mining Agency, or ANM, published on Monday in the nation’s official gazette. Dam owners have until Aug. 15 to complete a technical plan for the dams, which at a minimum need to include reinforcing existing structures or building new retention structures.

In an expected move by the Brazilian government, eight of Vale’s employees (including two executives)  have also been arrested as part of the criminal investigation. Search warrants have also been issued on four people from Consultancy firm Tüv Süd.

Last Saturday Vale said it intended to evacuate 200 people near one of its inactive mines in Minas Gerais as a ‘precautionary measure’.

Angry Brazilians have lashed out publicly against Vale in recent weeks following the Brumadinho disaster. Brazilians have questioned the legitimacy of Vale’s response following the Samarco disaster in 2015. Some Brazilians have questions Vale’s #RighttoOperate following two such disasters.

Early settlement for upstream tailings dam disaster victims

Vale has moved to create an early settlement for those affected by the disaster

In a meeting held on 18 February Vale confirmed the Preliminary Adjustment Agreement (TAP) proposal which, among other measures, would provide the following:

  • One-off payment to those who resided or carried out rural or commercial activities in the Self-Rescue Zone (ZAS) of the dam, as well as in the Córrego do Feijão and Parque da Cachoeira communities. This payment includes the cumulative R$5000.00 sums per household, to be paid in a lump sum; R$12 000.00 per adult, paid in 12 monthly instalments; R$3600.00 per dependent residing at the same address, also paid in 12 monthly instalments; plus a basket of staples from the Inter-Union Department of Statistics and Socioeconomic Studies (DIEESE) per family, every month, for 12 months; all without prejudice to future compensation or indemnities, to be evaluated individually.


  • Reimbursement or direct payment of the extraordinary expenses incurred by the State of Minas Gerais – by both directly involved and indirect administrative agencies – including payment of expenses related to transport, accommodation and meals supplied to the civil servants involved in the rescue work and other emergency actions.


  • Ratification of the various obligations already undertaken by Vale before public authorities and the affected communities, such as the provision of housing, social and psychological assistance; supply of water for human and animal consumption and agricultural activities; rescue and protection of animals; among other commitments.


  • Continuing the ongoing emergency measures for mitigating and repairing the environmental damage resulting from the breach, including containment and subsequent handling of waste, surveillance of the remaining structures of the Córrego do Feijão mine, and ongoing monitoring of the quality of water.

What is abundantly clear is that this incident will haunt Vale for many years to come and its reputational recovery from such a disaster may never happen. The reputational damage to mining and related industries is potentially unrepairable some say.

Vale has lost 1/4 of its value or USD $19 Billion since the collapse.


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AMSJ April 2022