Engineering & Mining Journal

FEB 2019

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NEWS-LEADING DEVELOPMENTS 4 E&MJ • FEBRUARY 2019 Dam Bursts at Vale's Feijão Mine By Jennifer Jensen, Associate Editor Engineering and Mining Journal offers its prayers and condolences to our friends and colleagues at Vale and all those who have suffered a loss during this tragedy. Brazil's Vale SA will invest about US$70 million in dam management in 2019, an increase of around 180% when compared to the US$30 million that was invested in 2015. This comes after a tailings dam collapsed on January 25 at Vale's Córrego de Feijão mine in Brumadinho, Minas Gerais, killing at least 150 people and leaving more than 180 still missing when part of its contents reached the compa- ny's administrative area and part of the Vila Ferteco community. The amount will be invested in main- tenance services, monitoring, improve- ments, audits, risk analysis, revisions of the Emergency Action Plan for Mining Dams (PAEBM), implementation of alert systems, video monitoring and instrumen- tation, according to the company. Vale plans to increase the share of dry process- ing in its production to 70% by 2023, and reduce the use of dams in its operations. Starting in 2020, Vale will invest about US$390 million in the implementation of dry stacking disposal technology. The civil court of Belo Horizonte re- quired the company to refrain from dis- posing tailings or practicing any activity that might increase the risk at its Lar- anjeiras, Menezes II, Capitão do Mato, Dique B, Taquaras, Forquilha I, Forquilha II and Forquilha III dams. Vale said there is no technical basis nor risk assessment to justify these ac- tions. As a result of halting the Laranjei- ras dam, located at the Brucutu mine, the company said about 30 million tons of iron ore per year will be impacted. Vale said it has also temporarily sus- pended operations at the Vargem Grande Complex to further accelerate the process of decommissioning previously mentioned. The suspension accounts for approximate- ly 13 million tons of wet-processed iron ore per year, according to the company. Vale will be decommissioning all its dams built by the upstream method. In 2015, Vale had 19 upstream dams in op- eration, but made them inactive, initiating the decommissioning process. However, there were still 10 active upstream dams. It should take up to three years with an investment of US$1.3 billion to decommis- sion the dams, ac- cording to Vale. On February 5, Vale had three mem- branes installed in the Paraopeba river to protect the water with- drawal and supply sys- tem of the city of Pará de Minas, located 40 km from Brumadin- ho. This preventative measure is part of the plan presented by Vale to the Public Prosecutor's Office and environmental agencies. Vale also installed 46 monitoring points along the Paraopeba river until it reaches the São Francisco river mouth. The tailings that leaked from Dam 1 are concentrated in the Feijão e Carvão stream as well as in the confluence of the steam and the Para- opeba river, according to the company. The dam contained 11.7 million cubic meters of tailings, but was inactive, ac- cording to Vale. Plant facilities, the load- ing terminal, the maintenance workshops and the administrative buildings of the Córrego de Feijão mine were damaged. The company has also established two independent consulting committees. The first independent committee will be ded- icated to follow up on the measures taken to support the victims and the recovery of the areas affected by the breach of the dam. The second independent committee will be dedicated to investigating the caus- es and responsibilities for the dam breach. Vale also faces legal and criminal ac- tions for the dam failure. As of January 30, the Minas Gerais Court had blocked about US$3.2 billion to guarantee the recovery of damages caused by the dam breach. In addition, sanctions by IBAMA and the state of Minas Gerais amounted to approximately US$95.8 million, according to Vale. A preliminary injunction was granted after the Public Ministry of Labor filed a civil action, freezing about US$437.5 million to secure compensation for direct and third-party employees that worked in A view from above of the dam failure owned by Brazilian miner Vale SA in Brumadinho. (Photo: Washington Alves/Reuters) Members of a rescue team search for victims after the tailings dam collapses. (Photo: Adriano Machado/Reuters)

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