Emergency Containment of Dams

Repair and development

Emergency Containment of Dams

Emergency Containment of Dams

Emergency Containment of Dams

Emergency containments are structures built downstream of the dams currently set to emergency Level 3, with the aim of reducing the risks of impacts on people and the environment.

The structure works as a barrier to contain tailings in the event of a breach.

These structures are made of rocks or concrete. The material is chosen based on the geological characteristics of the region and the emergency nature of the construction works. 

Dams under Containment Works

The dams currently under containment works are listed below:

  • Sul Superior (Barão de Cocais)
  • B3/B4 (Macacos, Nova Lima)
  • Forquilhas I e III (between Ouro Preto and Itabirito)

The works should be complete by February 2020.

Check out images of the ongoing containment works

B3/B4 Dam

The containment of B3/B4 dam is located 8km away from the 190-meter long and 30-meter high structure. 

Forquilhas 1 and 3 Dams

The containment of Forquilhas 1 and 3 dams is located approximately 11km away from the 315-meter long and 60-meter high structures.

Sul Superior Dam

The containment of Sul Superior dam is located 6km away from the 306-meter long and 36-meter high structure

Safety Measures

Containment works of this size are closely monitored in compliance with rigorous safety rules.


The dams are under 24-hour monitoring through cameras, a robotic station (to detect millimetric movements of the structure), and automated piezometers connected to the Geotechnical Monitoring Center.

Training and Geolocation

Those working in the construction works at Sul Superior and B3/B4 dams have been provided with training on safety and worksite evacuation plans. In addition, controlled access to the structures through individual tracking devices, radio communication with evacuation leaders, signaling of escape routes and meeting points, and regular training on evacuation procedures are part of the evacuation plan.

Support Equipment

Workers carrying out activities in the dams are trained on the Emergency Action Plan for Mining Dams (PAEBM, Plano de Ação de Emergência para Barragens de Mineração), and all services are carried out with helicopter support. This means that the worker is connected to the helicopter throughout the activity, enabling prompt rescue in case of an emergency.

Impact of Construction Works

We know that works of this size have an impact on the communities. Therefore, Vale is taking the following measures to mitigate the effects:

  • Water trucks for access route spraying aiming to avoid the dispersion of dust from the construction works
  • Noise meters have been installed at the construction sites to control the noise limit
  • A telemetry system – that monitors the speed of trucks carrying supplies for the construction works – is used to improve traffic safety
  • The routes have been fully signaled
  • Vehicles used in the works are visually inspected to ensure adequate traffic conditions
  • The company is promoting awareness among drivers through educational campaigns and inspections, including breathalyzer testing
  • Alternative access has been created to reduce heavy vehicle traffic on the roads used by communities.