Police arrest eight Vale employees in connection with dam collapse

February 15, 2019

Brazilian police have arrested eight employees of mining company Vale SA as part of a criminal investigation into the causes of the deadly dam disaster on Jan. 25 that killed at 166 people and has left more than 100 still missing and presumed dead, prosecutors said on Feb. 15.

On Jan. 25 the Feijao dam at the Corrego do Feijao Mine owned by Brazilian mining giant Vale collapsed, killing at least 160 people in the town of Brumadinho, Brazil It is the deadliest mining mining accident in Brazil’s history, surpassing another dam collapse in 2015 that killed 19 people. That dam was jointly owned by Vale and BHP Billiton.

Following the collapse, government authorities have detained at least 17 employees for questioning and on Feb. 14, eight Vale employees were arrested and four consultants from the German consulting firm of Tuv Sud were detainted in connection with the collapse. The consultanting firm had inspected the dam and attested to its stability.

Police also carried out 14 search warrants as part of the investigation, prosecutors in the mining state of Minas Gerais said.

The Guardian reported that the arrests and search warrants targeted employees of Vale as well as employees of German auditing firm TÜV SÜD, which had certified the dam as stable.

Vale confirmed the arrest warrants and said in a securities filing it was cooperating with the investigation.

The latest warrants followed the arrest last month of five Vale and TÜV SÜD employees, who were released by a higher court ruling on 5 February.

The Vale employees arrested on Feb. 15 were responsible for the security and stability of the Brumadinho dam and will be held in jail for 30 days, prosecutors said.

Among those arrested was Vale’s Alexandre de Paula Campanha, who was involved in certifying the dam, according to TV channel Globonews.

Also arrested was his colleague Hélio Márcio Lopes da Cerqueira, who was allegedly involved in email correspondence about faulty monitoring equipment at the mine, according to newspaper Estado de S Paulo.

Neither Campanha nor Cerqueira could not be reached immediately for comment.


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