Canadian Mining Journal


IRON ORE: Arrests made in Vale tails dam breach

BRAZIL – Following the Jan. 25 failure of the No.1 tailings dam at its Veijao iron mine, owner Vale SA offered a long list of relief efforts for all of those affected. But is it enough?

Perhaps not.

Minas Gerais state investigators have already arrested five people – three Vale employees and two contractors. Seven search warrants citing suspicion of murder, falsification of  documents, and environmental crimes have been served against Vale. The company said it is co-operating with authorities.

Vale CEO Fabio Schvartsman. (Image: Bloomberg)

The Brazilian ministry of labour has demanded an approximately US$250 million bond to ensure that employees and contractors at Veijao receive adequate compensation. A class action lawsuit alleging securities violations has also been filed in the federal court of New York.

The company has said it will decommission 19 other tailings dams in the country, spending US$1.3 billion on the project over the next three years. Operations at affected site may be suspended, taking 40 million tonnes of concentrate and 11 million tonnes of pellets out of the market each year. Iron ore prices jumped a reported 9% in the wake of the announcement.

The estimate at noon on Wednesday, put the number of deaths at 65 and the number of missing at more than 280 following the dam collapse.

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