A slurry pipeline of British mining company Anglo American ruptured in Minas Gerais, discharging iron ore into the water stream that feeds the municipality of Santo Antônio do Grama (population: 4.2 thousand). The firm mobilized water trucks to assist the locals.
After receiving a note on the mishap on Monday morning (Mar. 12), local authorities declared that no information has been given concerning victims or people left homeless, and added that the company reported that the incident led to the depressurization of the main ore pipeline sending ore pulp to the bed of the Santo Antônio stream.
The 525-km-long pipeline is part of the Minas Rio extraction and refinement operation in Minas Gerais, and conveys the iron ore to a port in the municipality of São João da Barra, in the neighboring state of Rio de Janeiro.
Since more than one state is involved in the enterprise, the environmental license was granted by the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama), and is to remain valid until 2021. The agency announced that an emergency team has been sent to the place to assess the impact and decide on administrative penalties. Suspending the license, however, is not under consideration, Ibama reported.
The federal agency went on to report that, according to information received thus far, “the ore leaked has no chemical or toxic substances in its composition,” adding that “the waste caused the water to grow dim, but poses no risk to human health."
Anglo American stated that the rupture was notified to the relevant environment bodies, the civil defense, and the city authorities. According to the mining company, there were no victims and the ore flow was interrupted in such a way that only water was pumped. The pulp, the company declared, consists of 70% of iron ore and 30% of water, and is classified by the Brazilian Association of Technical Norms (ABNT) as “nonhazardous waste,” the note adds.
Anglo American said that, as a safety measure, the access to the scene has been blocked, and that experts have been sent over to collect samples of the water for ongoing assessment. “The company has provided water trucks to ensure the supply of water for the population affected and is to continue offering any assistance that proves necessary. We will keep society posted on further developments,” the text reads.
Translated by Fabrício Ferreira