Canadian Mining Journal

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IRON ORE: Vale kicks relief efforts into high gear following dam failure



BRAZIL – Four days after the failure of one of its tailings dams at the Feijao iron ore mine in Brumadinho, owner Vale SA is kicking its relief efforts into high gear. The release of the rusty-coloured sludge when the dam burst resulted in approximately 60 deaths and left at least a couple hundred people unaccounted for.

On Jan. 28, Vale announced it had struck a crisis response committee composed of independent members. In the interest of being independent, no one on the committee is to be from the mine or mill.

The same day, the company announced immediate aid for the families of those affected by the event. A grant of US$100,000 has been offered to each family of those killed, whether they were Vale employees or not. The offer is considered to be separate from any legal indemnity that may ensue.

Vale has hired specialists in trauma, mourning and disasters from Sao Paulo to join the 100 health professionals  that are already in place to provide assistance to the families affected.

Even though operations have been suspended at the mine and mill, Vale has promised to continue its financial obligations to the municipality of Brumadinho, so that the town can continue to operate.

Vale is already building dikes to contain sediment from the tails. The company has hired an engineer who worked on the repair plan after the Samarco dam failure. A field inspection has already been done to aid in the planning.

As a preventive measure, Vale will install a special membrane to prevent sediments from entering the water system of the city of Mara de Minas about 40 km away.

Finally, the miner says it is supplying lighting, backhoes, ambulances, 1,500 accommodations, a rescue helicopter, 1.4 million litres of drinking water, food parcels, pharmacy and hygiene items, hospital care, and a toll-free telephone number to help those who need assistance to access it.

Meanwhile the Brazilian securities and exchange commission (CVM) has launched a probe into Vale’s filings related to the dam failure and its response to the tragedy.

Check the Vale website, www.Vale.com, for the latest updates on the situation.