Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Brasilian Dams - Laxity insafety

The mining dam that collapsed in Brazil last month, killing 165, was declared safe by 
Vale, the world's top iron ore corporation. Vale said the dam was ruled safe by an independent auditor.

"There is no known report, audit or study with any mention of an imminent risk of collapse at Dam 1 in the Córrego do Feijão mine in Brumadinho," it said in a statement. "To the contrary, the dam had all its certificates of safety and stability attested to by local and foreign specialists."
 The incident at Brumadinho dam is Brazil's deadliest mining disaster, with many workers still unaccounted for and with some 300 people feared dead.

According to an internal report  Vale was aware the Minas Gerais dam breached internal safety guidelines in October.  Vale was told the chance of collapse at Brumadinho was one in 5,000 - twice the maximum level of risk allowed under company guidelines. 

The report placed the dam within an "attention zone", saying that "prevention and mitigation controls" should be appliedIt also said a failure could cost the company $1.5bn (£1.2bn) and lead to more than 100 deaths. Furthermore it flagged nine other Vale-owned mining dams in Brazil as being at risk.  It is still not known what caused the collapse at Brumadinho, but experts believe liquefaction was to blame. Liquefaction is a process whereby a solid material such as sand loses strength and behaves more like a liquid.

 A group of international non-governmental organizations on Tuesday demanded that Brazilian miner Vale SA be excluded from the United Nations’ corporate responsibility pact, after a mining dam burst that killed an estimated 300 people. A letter signed by more than 15 NGOs said that Vale failed to take proper safety measures at a tailings dam at its Corrego do Feijao iron ore mine in Minas Gerais state. The dam ruptured on Jan. 25, releasing a torrent of mud that buried workers and nearby communities. The NGOs said the dam burst in the town of Brumadinho amounted to a “serious violation of human rights” and “grave environmental damage,” contravening the accord. hey said Vale should have done more to prevent the disaster after a similar incident in 2015 at Vale’s Samarco joint venture with BHP Group killed 19 people and devastated a major river, Brazil’s largest-ever environmental catastrophe.

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