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Brazil ups fine against Vale in face of possible dam rupture

May 19, 2019 GMT

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Authorities in Brazil have raised to $73 million a fine that mining giant Vale will face if it does not present within 72 hours a technical report on the risks and possible impact of the rupture of a dam in Minas Gerais.

The decision taken Friday by judge Fernanda Machado was a response to a request by the Public Ministry, where prosecutors are asking why the company continues to fail to file the risks study despite reports of earth movement in recent days that could portend an imminent collapse of the Sul Superior iron ore waste dam.

The ministry wants a study on the possibility of a collapse of the entire Gongo Soco mining complex in Barao de Cocais. The fine had originally been set at $25 million. Areas near the mine were evacuated in February.


Vale, one of the world’s biggest mining companies, has been under the microscope since one of its dams broke in the city of Brumadinho in January, leaving 240 dead and 30 missing.

Vale’s communications office said it had not been notified of the increase in the fine. “The company was not informed of any decision,” it said in a statement.

In a document produced by the company, it estimated the Sul Superior dam of the Gongo Soco mine was at risk of breaking between May 19 and 25.

“The flood (caused by the rupture) would completely destroy the communities near the dam in seconds and devastate all commerce in the center of Barao de Cocais in 30 minutes,” Machado said in her decision.

In March, Vale warned that four of its dams in Brazil could collapse at any moment.