Tailings dam fails at Vale’s Feijão mine, floods nearby community

A rupture in a tailings dam at Vale’s Feijão mine in the city of Brumadinho, in the state of Minas Gerais in south-east Brazil, has flooded the company’s administrative facilities and part of the nearby Vila Ferteco community.

“There is no confirmation about injured people at the site,” Vale said on Friday January 25. “[The company’s] top priorities right now are preserving and protecting the lives of our employees and the community’s population.”

However, Vale’s emergency tailings dam operation is already active, according to the miner, and images of the accident broadcast by local television stations show that local people were affected by the flood.

Feijão produces around 8 million tonnes per year of iron ore, according to the company’s 20-F form filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The dam is one of two located at the mine and total capacity of both amounts to 1.3 million cubic meters of waste material.

Vale is the world’s largest iron ore producer with an expected 400 million tonnes of output for 2019 and beyond, from a capacity of 450 million tpy.

Fastmarkets’ iron ore index of 62% Fe material delivered to Qingdao, China, was at $74.69 per tonne on Friday, up from $74.71 per tonne a day before and higher than $72.73 per tonne on December 31.

This accident happened a little more than three years after the Fundão tailings dam at the Samarco mine in Mariana, also in Minas Gerais, ruptured and flooded the Rio Doce basin.

Samarco is a 50:50 joint venture between Vale and BHP.

Vale and BHP formed a non-profit foundation called Renova after the accident, which is expected to spend 11.60 billion Reais ($3.08 billion) to repair and refund damages caused by the event.