Judge orders Vale to pay for damages from tailings dam collapse
Vale has been ordered by a judge in Brazil has ordered to pay compensation for all damages caused by the collapse of the Brumadinho dam on January 25 that left at least 247 people dead more than 20 still missing following the collapse of the Feijão dam.
The judge did not set a figure for the compensation but said that the company was responsible for fixing all the damages including the economic effects.
The amount "will not be limited to deaths due to the event, but also effects on the local and regional environment, in addition to economic activity in the affected regions," Judge Elton Pupo Nogueira said in the statement.
The BBC reported that Nogueira also said that $2.9 billion (£2.3bn) of Vale's assets frozen by courts should remain blocked. He said the funds should be used to make compensation payments to affected families and businesses.
The judge said Vale had so far co-operated with the justice system and taken all the actions required from it following conciliation hearings.
He also pointed out that Vale's defense team had not denied responsibility for the damage caused by the collapse of the dam.
In a statement, Vale said it had a "total commitment to fair and quick reparations for the damages caused to families, community infrastructure and the environment."
While Judge Nogueira's ruling is the first conviction for Vale over dam collapse, it is unlikely to be the end of its legal troubles. The Brazilian Senate urged prosecutors to bring charges ranging from environmental damage to involuntary manslaughter against top managers at Vale at the time of the dam collapse.
Vale said that it disagreed with the Senate's recommendation and insisted that senior company officials had not been aware of any "imminent risks" at the dam prior to its collapse.
While not legally binding, the Senate recommendation has further increased pressure on the mining giant.
There are also concerns that other dams may be at risk of collapse.