Vale, the world’s largest iron-ore miner, set aside $1.9-billion to accelerate the decommissioning of nine mine-waste dams in Brazil’s Minas Gerais state as part of its response to the deadliest tailings disaster in the country’s history.
Between $150-million and $200-million will be spent this year, $500-million in 2020 and $150-million to $200-million in “the following years", the company said in a filing.
The statement came as three of the world’s leading mining companies including BHP, Glencore and Anglo American Plc released information on the safety of their dams amid greater scrutiny.
“We have not spared, and will not spare, resources or efforts to repair any damages caused to the families involved, to the infrastructure of the communities and to the environment” caused by failures at its operations, CEO Eduardo Bartolomeo said in the filing.
Bartolomeo pledged to address safety at the company’s dams when he took over in May as Vale reacted to the January 25 dam burst that left about 300 people dead or missing. The breach unleashed a lake of waste that buried a worker cafeteria and parts of a village. It was the second dam failure at a Vale project since 2015, when a tailings dam it co-owns with BHP in the same state broke, killing 19 people and contaminating waterways.
Vale released information on 85 dams that it either operates or is involved in via joint ventures. Of these, 30 dams it operates in Brazil were categorized as likely to cause a high level of damage if they were breached. At least nine of its dams in Canada were rated as likely to cause an extreme amount of damage if they failed.