FAQ - Frequently asked questions


FAQ - Frequently asked questions

Emergency measures to help victims and their families

Which measures has Vale already implemented?

The company has already provided accommodation for more than 800 people, plus ambulances and a helicopter to help in the rescue. Vale also created the Humanitarian Aid Committee comprising a team of social workers and psychologists to help those affected by the dam breach.

How are the families of the victims getting assistance?

Assistance is provided through the Help Line 0800 031 0831.

There are also eleven help centers in operation for on-site assistance. Click here to check out the addresses and service hours of each help center.

Is Vale offering psychological support to the families of the victims?

Yes. Vale hired a specialized team from the Albert Einstein hospital in São Paulo to assist the families of those affected by the incident. The team comprising experts in trauma, grief and disaster joined the 100 health professionals of the company that are currently working on the site.

Did Vale provide transportation to the families of the victims?

Yes. Vale had cars and buses available to transport the affected relatives. The company transported the families specified by social workers between Brumadinho, the forensic Medicine Facility (Instituto Médico Legal, IML), hotels, and wake and burial sites.

In addition, Vale is also offering transportation between Brumadinho Córrego do Feijão Casa Branca, and between Córrego do Feijão e Cantagalo. Transportation is available daily – including Saturdays and Sundays - at the following departure times:

From: Feijão
To: Brumadinho
From: Brumadinho
To: Feijão
06:30 09:30
07:30 12:30
08:30 14:30
10:30 16:30
12:30 18:00
From: Casa Branca
To: Brumadinho
From: Brumadinho
To: Casa Branca
06:00 06:00
08:00 08:00
10:00 10:00
12:00 12:00
14:00 14:00
16:00 16:00
18:00 18:00
20:00 20:00
From: Cantagalo
To: Feijão
From: Feijão
To: Cantagalo
06:00 18:00

Financial aid to the families of the victims and those affected in the Self-Rescue Zone

What kind of financial support did Vale offer to the families of the affected people?

The company offered a R$100,000.000 donation to representatives of Vale employees, of third-party employees and of members of the community who are missing and/or deceased, as per the official list validated by the Civil Defense. Until February 13th, 253 families received the donation and 308 families was registered.
Donations are not linked to indemnities and do not represent an advance payment thereof. Indemnities are being paid as determined by the authorities.

How could the families of those affected apply for financial aid?

Starting on Wednesday (February 6), the registration service was available on weekdays from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm exclusively at the Brumadinho Knowledge Center, located at Rodovia MG 040, KM 49, Área Rural Brumadinho.

Who was eligible to receive the donation?

Those who were eligible to receive the donation included representatives of Vale employees, of third-party employees and of the missing and/or deceased members of the community, as per the official list validated by the Civil Defense. Only one representative could register to receive the donation, in the following order of preference:
1st – legal guardians of minor children;
2nd – spouse or common-law partner;
3rd – descendants;
4th – ascendants.

Which documents were required for the registration?

Applicants had to present proof of family relationship (according to group, as described below) and their original and updated personal data (full name, ID, social security number, date of birth, full address, e-mail, telephone and bank details).

- 1st group: order or letter of custody or guardianship of the children and/or the children’s birth certificates;
- 2nd group: marriage certificate or common-law marriage affidavit;
- 3rd group: proof of affiliation (e.g. birth certificate, passport, ID);
- 4th group: proof of affiliation (e.g. birth certificate, passport, ID).

How the payment was processed?

- For representatives who had bank account:

1) Filled out the registration form at the help center with personal data (full name, ID, social security number, date of birth, full address, e-mail, telephone and bank details) and bank details: bank, bank number, branch number and account number – with digits – and type of account (savings or current).
2) Vale reviewed the documents within 48 calendar hours.
3) Vale contacted each applicant to inform the request analysis result.
4) Once the representative meets the eligibility criteria and the account was validated, the money was available in the informed account within three business days.

- For representatives who didn't have bank account:

1) Filled out the registration form at the Knowledge Center or at the Feijão Community Center with personal data (full name, ID, social security number, date of birth, full address, e-mail, and telephone).
2) Vale helped representatives to open their bank accounts. The data entered in the registration was used to open a saving account at Banco do Brasil, through a simplified process.
3) Vale contacted each applicant to inform the request analysis result and advise the representative to go to the Banco do Brasil branch in Brumadinho for a biometric registration that will enables financial transactions.
4) Once the representative complied with the eligibility criteria and the account was validated by the bank, the money was available in the informed account within three business days.

Note: representatives could choose to open the account in a bank of his/her preference. They had to return to the registration venue to inform the bank details and complete the registration

What else does Vale offer to the relatives of the victims?

According to agreement signed on February 15, Vale undertook to pay the expenses with funerals and severances of the deceased, as per document issued by Brazil's National Social Security Institute (INSS). The salaries of the uncontacted people were maintained.

The company worked for the insurance payment to be done as quickly as possible and submited to Court the list of names and personal data of direct and third-party employees, as well as documents concerning the workers' health and safety.

Is Vale helping other people affected by the breach of Dam I?

Yes, Vale extended the humanitarian financial aid to those that lived or carried out any rural or commercial activities in the Self-Rescue Zone (ZAS, Zona de Autossalvamento) of the Emergency Action Plan for Mining Dams (PAEBM, Plano de Ação de Emergência de Barragens de Mineração). Besides this action, Vale is conducting several humanitarian actions since the dam breached. The company has mobilized a team of doctors, nurses, social assistants, psychologists and volunteers to assist the population and the families of those affected.

What sort of aid is being given to those affected in the Self-Rescue Zone?

Vale announced two types of donations to the people residing in the Self-Rescue Zone (ZAS) affected by the dam breach in Brumadinho. The first amounts to R$50,000.00 donation granted to those who lived in the ZAS of the Emergency Action Plan for Mining Dams. The second type is a R$15,000.00 donation for those who carried out rural or commercial activities in the ZAS. The donation is cumulative if the person fits more than one defined category: residence, productive rural activity or commercial establishment.

Donation application have already been closed

What is the Self-Rescue Zone?

The Self-Rescue Zone (ZAS) comprises the valley downstream of the dam where alert warnings, extending up to 10 km, defined by the Emergency Action Plan for Mining Dams (PAEBM).

How the payments to those affected on the Self-Rescue Zone (ZAS) were made

The applications were made at the Knowledge Center. The company provided vans to transport applicants to the Knowledge Center.

Applications for registration of donations of R$ 15 thousand, R$ 50 thousand and R$ 100,000 had to be previously scheduled by 0800 31 0831.
After the appointment, the service was performed on the date and time set, at Clube Aurora registration center.

See the addresses of the help centers.

Who was elegible to receive the donation?

Vale considered the three categorie below for the registration of the donation:

- Resident: Only one donation was made per property even if there is more than one family sharing. The donation was destined exclusively for those who lived in the property on the date of the dam breach, regardless of the ownership. Properties considered for donation were those in the ZAS.
- Rural Producer: A R$15,000.00 donation was made to each family of a rural producer that carried out productive activities in the ZAS, regardless of the ownership, number of production areas and the size of the area. Sharecroppers (a tenant farmer who gives a part of each crop as rent) and tenants could receive the donation.
- Dealer: A R$15,000.00 donation was made to dealers that had a commercial establishment or carried out small-sized industrial activities in the ZAS.

What were the required documents?

It was necessary to present documents that prove the connection of the applicant with a residence, with a productive activity or property in the ZAS, as per the list below, and the applicant’s personal original and updated data (full name, ID, social security number, date of birth, full address, e-mail, telephone and bank details).

- Resident: Original documents, that relate the applicant to the property, in the ZAS, such as: deed; Urban Building and Land Tax (IPTU) slip; lease contract, water or electricity bills, all with the property address in the name of the applicant.
- Rural Producer: Original documents that evidence the relationship between the applicant and the productive activity developed in the ZAS, such as: sharecrop or leasing contracts; title deed; Declaration of Aptitude to the PRONAF, water bill with the property address in the name of the applicant.
- Dealer: Original documents that evidence the relationship between the applicant and the activity or property, such as: registration in the Commercial Registry, municipal permit.

Vale also provided transportation to Banco do Brasil for the opening of the bank account.

What is the Preliminary Adjustment Agreement (TAP) ratified by Vale?

Seeking to accelerate the emergency response to the breach of Dam I at Córrego do Feijão mine, in Brumadinho, Vale signed a Preliminary Adjustment Agreement (TAP) on February 20 to anticipate the emergency payments to every person that was registered as resident in the city of Brumadinho on the day the dam breached. The emergency payment to also extended to those who resided within a 1km radius of the Paraopeba riverbed, from Brumadinho to the city of Pompéu, at the Retiro de Baixo dam.

The agreement lays down the following measures, among others:

- Advanced indemnity payment in monthly installments of one minimum wage per adult, 50% of the minimum wage per adolescent, and 25% of the minimum wage per child, for a period of 12 months.

– Independent technical consulting service to enable the affected people to negotiate their indemnities individually;

– Reimbursement or direct payment of the extraordinary expenses incurred by the State of Minas Gerais – by both its directly involved and indirect administrative agencies –, including payment of expenses related to transport, accommodation and food supplied to the civil servants involved in the rescue work and other emergency actions.

Learn more about the emergency indemnification

Animal rescue and assistance

What efforts are being made to rescue the animals in the affected areas?

Approximately 50 professionals worked to rescue the local fauna on both banks of the Paraopeba river. The task force comprises veterinarians, biologists and assistants, in addition to Vale employees, advisors, and several volunteers who have been mobilized by the Regional Council of Veterinary Medicine. A helicopter specialized in emergency animal rescue began to operate on Sunday, February 3.

Where are the animals being taken?

Vale rented a farm to shelter the animals that are being rescued. The company also set up a second structure to admit and treat small and large animals rescued in Brumadinho. The farm turned into a Field Hospital has stalls and carts for cattle, a pasture area for sheep and pigs, dog fences, an area dedicated to wild animals, and a swimming pool to accommodate fish. A team of 30 professionals comprising veterinarians, support staff, and volunteers is conducting the work. Vale also set up a food and medication center that will remain in operation for as long as the animals stay in the farm. The Field Hospital will be the primary support station for all animal rescue efforts in Brumadinho.

What other actions is Vale taking to assist the animals?

Vale has disclosed the list of animals that are in the hospital, shelter or animal sorting and accommodation centers set up by Vale. Click here to see the list

The company reinforces the ongoing assistance provided to the animals affected by the Brumadinho dam breach.

Tailings control measures

How are the tailings moving?

The tailings that leaked from Dam 1 are concentrated in the Ferro-Carvão stream and in the confluence of the steam and the Paraopeba river. Because the dam had been inactive with no tailings being added for approximately three years, the slurry was relatively dry and did not leak too far.

What measures are being taken to prevent the spread of tailings?

Four structures are under construction to retain tailings and sediments for the Paraopeba river course. They are two hydraulic barriers, which have the purpose of retaining sediments, allowing the passage of water. Another structure is a dam, which will serve to contain finer solid material. The works are in progress and should be completed by the end of this year.

In addition to these structures, a curtain of metal stakes was installed near the confluence of the Ferro-Carvão stream and the Paraopeba river. This measure will make it possible to clean the section of the river where the highest concentration of sediments is located, as well as to reduce the transport of solids in the Paraopeba course.

How does the barrier work?

The sediment control barrier is 30 meters wide and 2 to 3 meters deep. The structure works as a filtering fabric, trapping solid particles (clay, silt, organic matter...) that cause water turbidity and change its transparency.

To maintain the anti-turbidity curtains in a vertical position, there are metal chains at the lower edge (submerged part) that avoid the river flow to force the curtain to the surface. The flotation element is a cylinder buoy that can be used to prevent the spread of sediments suspended in water.

How does the Fluvial Water Treatment Station work?

The Fluvial Water Treatment Station (ETAF) has the capacity to treat approximately 2 million liters per hour. The implementation of the structure is part of the Reject Containment Plan presented by the company to public agencies.

Near the Avenida Alberto Flores‘s new bridge, a curtain of metallic stakes was installed to contain the tailings. At this point, the water of the Ferro-Carvão stream is being collected and pumped to the ETAF, where it passes through filtering and sediment removal processes.

In the ETAF, the water is separated from the solids by means of a settling process and then passes through the filtration, returning treated to the stream Casa Branca, another tributary of Paraopeba.

The solids decanted in the sedimentation basin are directed to large pockets called geotextiles, responsible for containing, storing and dewatering the tailings. Drained water from these pockets is fed into the installed filtration system. The solids in the geotextile tubes will be removed and transported to an area previously defined and authorized by the competent bodies.

This whole process of water treatment is fundamental to significantly reduce the sediment movement in the course of the Paraopeba river. With the installation of this system, Vale reaffirms its commitment to mitigate the impacts caused to the environment and communities as a result of the dam’s breach.

Is Vale monitoring the Paraopeba river?

Yes. Vale has also established a plan to monitor the quality of water, sediments and aquatic organisms from daily samples collected at 48 points in the Paraopeba and São Francisco river basins, with partial results being shared daily with the competent agencies.

About the breach

Does Vale have any information on the causes of the breach?

The company's efforts are focused on the care of those affected and on the repair and development of the municipalities affected directly and indirectly. Vale reinforces its support for the Civil Defense and the Fire Department, who are in the area in search of the disappeared. In addition, Vale continues to investigate the causes of the disruption, but does not t have a conclusion yet about the causes.

Vale is the most interested party in the investigation of the facts and has cooperated fully with the authorities. Documents and information requested by the Justice and other institucions have been presented by the company and its employees in an uncontested way, in collaboration with the investigations.

Independent Committees of Extraordinary Advice ("CIAE") were set up to follow up on measures to assist the victims and the recovery of the area, to determine the causes and to reinforce the safety conditions of the dams.

Did Vale know about the risk of a dam breach?

Dam I had all applicable stability affidavits and was subject to an external and independent audit in September 2018.

Was dam 1 in operation?

Dam 1 was in the process of decommissioning. It had been inactive for about three years. Consequently, no tailings were being added. It was built in 1976 by Ferteco, a company that was acquired by Vale in 2001.

Did the breach affect other dams?

The small structures IV and IV-A of the Córrego do Feijão Mine were struck by the tailings that leaked from Dam I. Dam VI was inspected shortly after the Dam I breach. It is being constantly monitored by two radars, being one of them every 3 minutes with real-time monitoring.

Is Vale taking action to improve safety in Dam VI?

Yes. Vale is carrying out the lowering of the water level of the VI Dam, through a pumping system, keeping the structure at the recommended safety level. In addition, the recovery of the surface drainage system is being carried out.

About Dams

What are dams?

Dams are structures designed by engineers, used as a reservoir to contain or accumulate liquid substances or mixture of liquids and solids from the ore processing process.

How many dams does Vale have?

Vale operates 133 iron ore dams in country, of which 105, or 80%, are located in Minas Gerais. In addition, the company has 21 iron ore dams in Pará and seven in Mato Grosso do Sul.

What is decommissioning?

Decommissioning is the process of ending use of a dam permanently. After the works are carried out, the remaining structure is no longer characterized as a dam and is reincorporated into the relief and the environment.

For more information, visit our page on dams here.

About the Extraordinary Independent Consulting Committees

On January 27, 2019, Vale’s Board of Directors created two Extraordinary Independent Consulting Committees: The Extraordinary Independent Consulting Committee for Support and Recovery ("CIAEAR"), dedicated to following up the measures to assist the victims and recover the area affected by the dam breach, ensuring allocation of all required resources, and the Extraordinary Independent Consulting Committee for Investigation ("CIAEA"), to help investigate the facts that caused the breach and find the persons responsible for it.

On February 15, the company announced the formation of a third committee, Extraordinary Independent Consulting Committee for Dam Safety ("CIAESB"), which will be dedicated to advising the Board on issues related to the diagnosis of safety conditions, management and mitigation of risks related to Vale’s ore tailings dams, as well as recommending measures to strengthen safety conditions.

On the same day, the Board decided to re-evaluate and standardize the composition of those committees – to be composed exclusively by external independent members, with unblemished reputation and with experience in the subjects of their respective occupations. Such decision will also enable the Board members who had been previously assigned to the first two committees to dedicate exclusively to the matters concerning the Board of Directors.

Members of the three Committees are listed below:

Extraordinary Independent Consulting Committee for Support and Recovery (CIAEAR)

Leonardo Pereira (external independent member - Chairperson of the committee) - President at Comissão de Valores Mobiliários (CVM) from 2012 to 2017. Independent Advisor of the Oversight Advisory Committee of the World Health Organization. Engineer and economist. Masters in Administration by Warwick University and specialization by AOTs, Japan. Visiting Fellow at Harvard Law School for negotiation and corporate governance. Global experience of more than 25 years in the capital markets.

Ana Cristina Barros (external independent member) - 30 years dedicated to the defense of the environment and sustainable development. Served as National Secretary of Biodiversity and Forests in the Ministry of Environment. Accomplishments: design and promotion of the Rural Environmental Registry, support for the creation of Conservation Units and national policies for management of indigenous lands, negotiations with the Global Environment Fund and representation of Brazil in the assessment of its Biodiversity Policy by the OECD.

Márcio Gagliato (independent external member) - Masters in Social Psychology (PUC) and PhD from the Faculty of Publich Health (USP). Technical Consultant for United Nations agencies and international non-governmental organizations, more than 12 years of experience in humanitarian responses, including actions in Libya, Iran, Syria, Gaza, South Sudan, Somalia, Zimbabwe among others. Awarded with Fellowship Programme in Human Rights by the University of Columbia (NY). Specialist in emergencies by the Pan American Health Organization and participation in the "Reference Group of the Permanent Interagency Committee on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Humanitarian Emergencies".

Extraordinary Independent Consulting Committee for Investigation (CIAEA)

Dra. Ellen Gracie (external independent member - Chairperson of the committee) - Former Minister of the Federal Supreme Court and of the Electoral Superior Court, President of the Special Committee for Investigation at Petrobras, President of the Special Committee for Investigation at Eletrobras.

Jose Francisco Compagno - Leadership Partner of the Forensic Department at EY from 2002 to 2018, and Leadership Partner for Transaction Support from 2001 to 2005. Auditing Partner at Arthur Andersen from 1998 to 2001. Director of Auditing at Coopers & Lybrand Auditores Independentes from 1987 to 1998. Graduated in Accounting Sciences at FMU - SP. Member of the Executive Committee at EY from 2016 to 2017.

Manuel de Almeida Martins (external independent member) - Civil Engineer graduated by the School of Engineering of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) in 1971, with specialization in geotechnical engineering and dam engineering. He carried out activities for thirty years in studies, project detailing, construction monitoring, supervision, quality control, monitoring and assessments on safety of dams and foundation works in large Brazilian companies as a geotechnical engineer and department manager specialized in geotechnics. In the last twenty years, he has worked as an Independent Consultant in geotechnical engineering for infrastructure projects, mainly dams.

Extraordinary Independent Consulting Committee for Dam Safety (CIAESB)

Flávio Miguez de Mello external independent member - Chairperson of the committee) - Civil engineer with specialization in hydraulics (1967) from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), with master's degree in Geology Science (1975) from UFRJ. Miguez is a reference in engineering of dams. He has taken courses and trainings in the USA, Canada and Portugal, has been teaching courses at several universities since 1968, has published more than 100 technical papers in Brazil and abroad, and has managed consulting companies and technical institutions in Brazil and abroad, among which, the International Commission of Large Dams, the Brazilian Committee on Dams, the National Academy of Engineering in Brazil, the School of Engineering of UFRJ, and received several academic and professional awards. He has worked on several dam projects in Brazil and abroad.

Willy Lacerda (external independent member) - Graduated in Civil Engineering by Escola Nacional de Engenharia da Universidade do Brasil (1958), Masters' degree in Geotechnical Engineering from University of California - Berkeley (1969) and PhD in Geotechnical Engineering from University of California - Berkeley (1976). He participated in the creation of the Geotechnical Institute of the city of Rio de Janeiro in 1966. During his teaching as a professor at COPPE - Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), from 1967 to 2007, he supervised over 50 Masters' theses and 18 PhD dissertations. He has over 150 published papers in journals and academic congress publications. He is currently a collaborating professor at COPPE - Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ). He has experience in Civil Engineering, with emphasis in slope stability, mainly acting on the following matters: embankments on soft clay, earth dams, landslides, slope stability, collapsible soils, soil mechanics and tropical soils. He was President at Brazilian Association of Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering (ABMS) from 1996 to 2000, where he currently is a partner and permanent member of the Board of Directors. Former president of JTC1 - Joint Technical Committee on Landslides and Engineered Slopes, of the following three international societies: ISSMGE, ISRM and IAEG - from 2006 to 2010, where he currently stands as one of its core members. He received the title of Emeritus professor of UFRJ in October, 2010. He was nominated for the National Academy of Engineering in Brazil (ANE) in 2012. He was nominated as Eminent Professor by Escola Politécnica of UFRJ in 2015. He is the coordinator of INCT - Geotechnical Institute for Rehabilitation of Slopes and Plains - REAGEO since 2008.

Alberto Fabrini (external independent member) - Over 30 years of managerial experience in complex business units in the industrial and mining sectors. Former Chairperson of the Board of the Brazilian Aluminum Association (ABAL) and board member of the Brazilian Mining Institute (IBRAM). For 9 years, Alberto held various positions as Executive Director of alumina, primary aluminum and bauxite operations at Norsk Hydro. There, he served, from 2013 to 2016, as Global Vice President. Previously, he worked for 22 years at Alcoa. At this company, from 2005 to 2007, he held the position of Managing Director of the Jamaican Unit, as well as the position of Refinery Director at Alumar, and Industrial Director at Poços de Caldas. Graduated in Mechanic Engineering (1980) from Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie, specializing in environmental management at York University Canada and a training in global management at the Thunderbird School of Global Management (Canada and United States).

Access glossary about dams