Vale ordered to halt operations at Brucutu following tailings dam collapse

February 4, 2019

A Brazilian court ordered miner Vale SA to suspend production at its Brucutu Mine in Minas Gerais, which has an annual capacity of 30 Mt (33 million st) of iron ore, Reuters reported.

Vale, owner of the Brumadinho tailings dam which ruptured last month, killing more than 100 people, did not have an immediate comment. Brucutu is Vale’s largest mine in Minas Gerais state.

The news comes as the Wall Street Journal is reporting that the company that inspected the dam last September as worked as both a consultant and an independent safety evaluator for the dam’s owner.

German-based TUV SUD said it had inspected the tailings dam last September and found it to be operating well.

“Based on our current state of knowledge, no damages were found,” a company spokesman said. “We will fully support the investigation and make available all documents required by the investigating authorities.”

The death toll from the tailings dams rupture at Vale’s Corrego do Feijao iron ore mine in Minas Gerais state is expected to rise sharply, with more than 200 still missing in the country’s worst mining disaster since 2015.

Vale announced that it will decommission its upstream dams that are similar to the one that collapse. The move will reduce Vale’s overall production.

The cuts are expected to cost 5 billion reais (£1 billion) over the next three years.

It will require operations at mines producing 40 Mt (44 million st) of iron ore a year to be suspended, the company's chief executive Fabio Schvartsman said.

According to Mr Schvartsman, these the dams are already inactive, but are surrounded but current mining operations, as was also the case in Brumadinho.

It comes after the disaster in November 2015, when a dam owned by Vale and BHP Billiton, burst in Mariana, also in the same state of Minas Gerais.

That accident killed 19 people in what was considered Brazil's worst environmental disaster at the time.
 

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