Vale has agreed to pay out $107 million in collective moral damages and $186,000 to each of the close relatives of nearly 250 people killed when a tailings dam collapsed in January at its iron ore mine in Brumadinho.
The sudden dam collapse on 25 January sent a river of waste pouring across the countryside of Minas Gerais state, killing 248 people. Another 22 are still missing.
Although Vale has agreed to the payment, the company has yet to admit any responsibility. The company is the co-owner of the mining firm Samarco, which operated another tailings dam which collapsed in 2015, killing 19 people and causing an environmental catastrophe. A criminal investigation over that disaster has not led to any convictions.
According to the deal signed on July 15, Vale will pay $186,000 in moral damages and insurance to partners, parents and children of victims, along with collective moral damages of $107 million.
“Vale reaffirms its total commitment to the prompt and fair reparation of damages caused to the families, to the infrastructure of communities and to the environment,” the company said in a statement.
The Guardian reported that dependents will get a monthly pension until the date the victim would have turned 75.
Employees at the dam told the Guardian that the dam suffered a leak six months before the disaster. That leak was among a host of problems cited in a 1 March document from federal and state prosecutors and police which recommended the suspension nine Vale employees, including the CEO, Fábio Schvartsman. A week later, Vale complied.
“The causes of the break are still being investigated. Since the dam broke Vale has presented all the documents and information requested and, as the most interested in investigating the facts, will continue contributing to investigations,” a spokeswoman said in an email.
Federal and state prosecutors in Minas Gerais are conducting criminal investigations.
Earlier this month, a committee in the Brazilian senate said that Schvartsman and Vale’s chief financial officer, Luciano Siani Pires, should be charged with murder. The committee also recommended charges against 13 others and said Vale and the dam stability auditor TÜV SÜD should be indicted for environmental damages and corporate responsibility, Reuters reported.
TÜV SÜD certified the dam was stable in 2018 despite concerns about drainage and monitoring. Vale has said it followed all the required safety measures.