Vale is still focused on the recovery of Brumadinho, in addition to prioritizing actions to manage development of the city and other affected territories (Barão de Cocais, Itabirito, and Macacos). Over these nine months, the company maintains an open dialogue with communities and representatives of the Government. Since January 2019, the company has allocated more than R$2.3 billion for recovery and compensation actions. For that, the company prioritizes its activities in four main areas – social, environmental, construction, and safety.
In order to ensure financial safety for families to start compensation negotiations, Vale makes monthly emergency payments to more than 108,000 residents of Brumadinho, Barão de Cocais, and cities along Paraopeba river channel. In addition, Vale guarantees housing, water, food, medicine, clothing, and transportation. More than 7,500 medical services have been made to assist the communities.
The company is committed to expedite individual indemnity agreements, by family and labor group. Thus, five offices are available for negotiations. More than 1,200 civil indemnities have already been signed with families from the affected communities, and 500 labor agreements have been made with families of employees – direct and third-party employees –, victims of the breach.
In addition to indemnity payments, Vale understands the need to contribute so that residents can deal with new reality and get back to their routine. Full Assistance Program for Affected People includes financial education and planning; resumption of agricultural activities; rural technical assistance; resumption of small business activities; assistance to microentrepreneurs and supplementary income activities; support for the purchase of residential, rural and commercial real estate; as well as social assistance. Launched less than a month ago, the Program has over 500 voluntary memberships.
Through dialogue with residents, Vale is also promoting social projects to redefine lives of those affected. An example is the use of art as a transformation tool. Ateliê Social Comfio project allows residents of Córrego do Feijão to join in activities to embroider and exchange experiences, always focusing on getting back to their lives.
In addition, Vale supports the City Government of Brumadinho to expand Family Referral Program, which includes psychologists and social assistants, using dialogue as the foundation for care.
Support to Institutions and Municipalities
In recognition of the work of institutions in Brumadinho, Vale concluded the donation of 77 operating vehicles to public security agencies of Minas Gerais: Fire Service, Military Police and Civil Police, as well as Civil Defense. Donations included in the agreement signed between the company and agencies in March, include vehicles, buses, vans and pickup trucks. The total amount invested in vehicles and other items acquired voluntarily and without tax consideration by the company is over R$70 million.
In addition to vehicles, the company has donated more than 7,000 equipment to institutions and is funding training courses for all 6,000 state military firefighters, as well as refurbishment of facilities, such as the Forensic Medical Institute, the Criminalistics Institute, and the Fire Academy. The choice of goods and services was defined jointly with representatives of the agencies, who were in charge of mapping their main needs.
Vale provided R$80 million as financial compensation to Brumadinho after shutdown of the company's activities, while maintaining the amounts generated by the Financial Compensation for Mineral exploration (CFEM, Compensação Financeira pela Exploração Mineral). In addition, it allocated R$32.6 million to the Municipal Department of Health and Social Assistance to hire multidisciplinary health professionals and new equipment, such as drones to spray larvicide for mosquito control in the region. Aiming at assistance to other cities affected by shutdown of the company's activities, Vale signed an agreement with Minas Gerais Mining Municipalities Association (AMIG, Associação de Municípios Mineradores de Minas Gerais) that resulted in two contributions of R$100 million.
On September 24, Vale announced the Development Plan for Affected Territories, which foresees an investment of R$190 million for the communities of Macacos (Nova Lima), Barão de Cocais, and Itabirito. It aims to develop the economic aptitude of the regions, as well as to promote social welfare after changes of the emergency levels of B3/B4, Sul Superior and Forquilhas dams. Investments will be directed to some areas, such as tourism, infrastructure, education, health, environment, and professional qualification.
Security agencies have received 77 vehicles donated by Vale.
Water Supply System
To support the recovery of Paraopeba river, a River Water Treatment Plant (ETAF, Estação de Tratamento de Água Fluvial) was set up near the confluence of Ferro-Carvão stream. From May 9, when operations started, until October 23, ETAF returned to Paraopeba river 1,9 billion liters of clean water in accordance with the legal standards defined by the National Council for the Environment (Conama, Conselho Nacional de Meio Ambiente).
To supply the metropolitan area of Belo Horizonte, Vale will invest almost R$450 million in construction works. Vale has committed to undertake interconnection works between the water supply systems of Paraopeba basin and Rio das Velhas basin (SRV).
To ensure water supply to the local population, with safely and in compliance with all engineering quality standards, in October Vale started construction works of the new pipeline system at Pará river – located between Pará de Minas and Conceição do Pará, in the midwest region of the state. This structure provides a water flow rate of 1 million liters per hour – the same rate collect by the municipality at Paraopeba river before the breach. The project is expected to be complete by July 2020, when it will be delivered to the City Government of Pará de Minas and operated by the concessionaire Águas de Pará de Minas.
Monitoring of Paraopeba River
Since January, Vale has been monitoring the water quality of Paraopeba river. Based on 387 indicators, Vale has carried out more than 3.2 million analysis of water, soil, tailings, and sediment along Paraopeba river channel. Today, the company has 67 water quality monitoring points that cover an area of 2.6 thousand kilometers along Paraopeba river. Since late March, mercury and lead levels are below the legal limits according to analyses of the Water Management Institute of Minas Gerais (IGAM, Instituto Mineiro de Gestão das Águas). It attests that sediments have not reached São Francisco river. But, due to the presence of these heavy metals, the State Authority prohibited water withdrawal from river directly. This prohibition remains as a preventive measure.
To meet emergency needs, Vale distributes water to people that withdrew water from Paraopeba river and used artesian wells or cisterns located 100 meters away from the river channel. Since January, more than 440 million liters of drinking water have been provided for human consumption, animal consumption, and irrigation.
In early October, Vale held – in partnership with PUC-SP – another adoption fair for rescued animals in Brumadinho. Several dogs and cats have been given new homes and will be monitored during six months to check the care provided. In total, 125 dogs and cats under Vale's care have already been adopted by new guardians. All adult animals have been vaccinated, dewormed and castrated, and another 64 domestic animals have been reintegrated to their homes.
In total, 796 animals were rescued from the affected area, found in containment works or at risk in Brumadinho. These small and large domestic animals, as well as wild animals, were examined, treated and assisted.
Dam Safety and De-Characterization
Vale is investing in the de-characterization of its dams raised with the upstream construction method. Always prioritizing the hiring of local labor, the construction works began in May 2019, and completion is expected between three and five years.
The company is working on several improvements – such as lowering of the water level of all reservoirs and cleaning of drainage channels –, and sensitivity studies with the auditing company to assess how lowering the water level can affect stability of the dams.
De-characterization is the process of ending use of a dam permanently. After the construction works are complete, the remaining structure is fully stable and reincorporated into the relief and the environment. The projects were filed with the State Department of Environment and Sustainable Development (SEMAD, Secretaria de Estado de Meio Ambiente e Desenvolvimento Sustentável) of Minas Gerais, the State Prosecution Office, and Brazil’s National Mining Agency (ANM, Agência Nacional de Mineração).
Containment and Removal of Tailings
In Brumadinho, three major containment structures are being constructed (two hydraulic filtration barriers and a dike), in addition to 23 small stabilizing barriers. The purpose of these interventions is to retain sediment flow into Paraopeba river. Construction works are in progress and shall be complete by the end of this year.
Since mid-May, Vale has been dredging tailings from the affected stretch of Paraopeba river. This process is essential for recovery of the watercourse. Dredging removes the tailings from the silted area of the river. The material removed is stored and dehydrated in large geotextile bags. The water drained from these bags is pumped to a treatment plant and returned clean to Paraopeba river. Dredging activities are planned to continue until 2020, beginning at the confluence of Ferro-Carvão stream and Paraopeba river, and extending almost 2km downstream.
In addition, containment works are in progress on three dams of the affected territories: Sul Superior (Barão de Cocais), B3/B4 (Macacos), and Forquilhas (Itabirito/Ouro Preto). Dimensions of the walls of each containment are:
- Sul Superior: concrete barrier, 36 meter high by 306 meter length, 8km downstream of the dam;
- B3/B4: stone barrier (rock-fill); 30 meter high by 90 meter length, 6km downstream of the dam;
- Forquilhas: concrete barrier, 60 meter high by 350 meter length, 11km downstream of the dam.
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