Vale: Ten dams similar to Brumadinho’s to shut down

The process will last some three years, and production will be reduced

Published on 30/01/2019 - 15:01 By Agência Brasil - Brasília

Vale CEO Fabio Schvartsman announced the mining giant will shut down ten dams similar to the one that burst in Brumadinho, near Belo Horizonte, state capital of Minas Gerais. These dams, he reported, all of which located in the same state, will be decommissioned. The company unveiled the decision to the market on Tuesday evening.

“This is the definitive and suitable response to the enormous tragedy we witnessed in Brumadinho. This plan was finished three to four days after the accident,” the executive said after a meeting with Mines and Energy Minister Bento Albuquerque and Environment Minister Ricardo Salles.

Schvartsman said decommissioning means to prepare the dam to be reintegrated to nature. “The company’s decision is that we can no longer live with this type of dam. We’ve made the decision to end all upstream dams,” he declared in Brasília.

The chief executive said that the project to decommission the dams is ready and will be submitted to federal and state agencies in 45 days. The deadline for implementing the measures is one to three years, he reported. The work should begin two months after licenses are issued. Vale estimates that some $1.34 billion will be spent in carrying out the plan.

Schvartsman said that there was “no pressure whatsoever” on the part of the government to intervene in Vale’s board. The meeting with the ministers was “strictly technical.”


The measure will cut production by 40 million tons of iron ore and 10 tons of pellets a year, which accounts for ten percent of the firm’s annual production. The waste from the dams to be decommissioned may be transformed into other materials, like bricks, or be buried.

“The decision of the company is that, after this disaster took place, we can no longer live with this kind of dam, so we made the decision of eliminating all upstream dams, decommissioning all of them immediately. To meet this goal, mining operations will have to be paralyzed in all sites in the vicinity of these dams,” he said.

Schvartsman said that, since the tragedy in Mariana, the company had decided to deactivate this type of dam. Of the total 19 upstream dams owned by the company in Minas Gerais, nine have been decommissioned.

Specialized engineering companies will be subcontracted. During the decommissioning process, the company’s operations will be brought to a halt.

“The only way to decommission is to stop operations. Vale spontaneously made the decision to cut all operations short [to] speed up the decommissioning. If we do it with operations still going, there are high risks of collapse,” said Schvartsman, pointing out that the company pledged not to dismiss the approximately 5 thousand workers to be affected by the reduced operations resulting from the decommissioning.

The upstream dams will be replaced with conventional dams and dry iron ore equipment, acquired by the company shortly before the rupture in Brumadinho.

The efforts to recover Brumadinho will be initiated after the rescue operations, Schvartsman reported.

Translation: Fabrício Ferreira -  Edition: Sabrina Craide / Nira Foster

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