Vale, as a shareholder of Samarco along with BHP Billiton, has been participating actively in measures to guarantee the safety of people affected by the accident that occurred at the Fundão tailings dam in the municipality of Mariana, Minas Gerais, on November 5. Since the first day, the company has provided human and material resources to aid Samarco with its rescue and retrieval work for people left homeless by the accident.
Frequently asked questions
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- What amount of waste from its mines has been deposited by Vale in Samarco dams?
In 2014, Vale sent to Samarco the amount of 1,005,581 tons of waste from the Alegria mine, in Minas Gerais. This amount represents 4.4722% of the total amount deposited in the dam Fundão between January 2014 and December 2014. Click here to access the Samarco Financial bill (Portuguese only).
- This waste transfer activity is licensed?
The waste transfer activity for Samarco is licensed since 1994 for the Corrective Operational License of Alegria Mine, COPAM process number 182/87/03/94. This license has been subjected to successive revalidation, as required by current environmental legislation in Minas Gerais. Licences are issued by COPAM (State Environmental Policy Council of the State of Minas Gerais). In this environmental license, was expected that Vale could waste on new Samarco’s structures that were to be built. The responsibility for licensing for the disposal of waste in the Fundão Dam is Samarco’s. Access here the license issued (Portuguese only).
- Has Vale deposited tailings from its mines above the Campo Grande dam’s capacity ?
No. Conforming Emergency Action Plan Document Mining Dam (PAEBM) (access the document here – Portuguese only), filed with the competent organs, its design capacity is 23.5 Mm3 and currently, the dam occupies a 19.59 Mm3 volume. Therefore, the Campo Grande dam is not saturated.
- Is the waste from the dams toxic?
No. The waste at the dam sites is inert, it has no toxic components. It is mainly composed of silica (sand) from the iron ore processing and contains no chemicals that pose a risk to health. The results of the analyzes requested by Samarco to SGSGeosol Laboratórios, specialized in environmental and geochemical analyzes of soil, attests that the waste from the Fundão dam offers no harm to people or the environment. Samples were collected on November 8th near Bento Rodrigues, Monsenhor Horta, Pedras, Barretos and Barra Longa, in the state of Minas Gerais, and were analyzed according to the Brazilian standard NBR 10004:2004. These sites have been identified for collection for being the closest to the accident, and therefore the samples represent the best material deposited in the dam. After the analyzes, the waste at these sites has been classified as non-hazardous. This means that the analyzed material presents no harm to people and the environment, considering that it provides no contaminants to water, even in rain exposure conditions.
- What are Vale’s plans for the reconstruction of the affected area?
Vale and BHP Billiton announced on November 27th plans to work together, with Samarco, to establish a voluntary, non-profit fund to support the rescue and recuperation of the Rio Doce river system, affected by the accident. The fund would initially be sponsored by Vale and BHP. The aim is to seek additional financial support from other private, public and NGOs. The initial value is still being defined. The objective, however, is that these resources would support the rescue and recuperation effort of the river system for the longer term. Additionally, Vale supports the 1 billion real emergency fund announced by Samarco, Brazilian federal and Minas Gerais state prosecutors. The Preliminary Commitment will guarantee funding for a range of emergency measures including prevention, mitigation, remediation and compensation for environmental and social effects of the incident at Samarco’s Fundão dam on November 5th. In Espírito Santo, Samarco also signed a Commitment with the Brazilian federal and Espirito Santo state prosecutors and the Ministry of Work, to cover measures in the municipalities of Baixo Guandu, Colatina, Linhares and Marilândia to prevent and mitigate socio-environmental impacts resulting from the accident. The measures include, ensuring a supply of water to the affected areas and the immediate rescue of flora and fauna in the area.
- Is the recovery of the Doce River possible?
Yes. The mud from the disruption of the dam has settled mainly in the riverbed of Rio Doce, after passing through Rio Carmo, one of the rivers that form Rio Doce. The other affluents, such as rivers Piranga, Casca, Matipó, Piracicaba, Santo Antônio, Corrente, Caratinga, Suaçuí Pequeno, Suaçuí Grande, Manhuaçu and Guandu, have remained untouched and will be responsible for renovating the water and life of Rio Doce. In an article published on November 18th, on Colabora website, the journalist Agostinho Vieira claims that, contrary to what has been circulating on social networks, the Doce River is not dead and can be recuperated. The text cites some factors that have been causing siltation in the Doce River for years, such as lack of sanitation and deforestation in the region, especially of riparian forests. The report concludes, giving as an example the recuperation of the River Thames in London, which had being considered biologically dead and is now clean. Several federal and state institutions of Espírito Santo have recently formed a governance group to jointly address issues related to the Doce River basin and report on their activities to society. The fist content which is posted brings relevant information about how it is possible to make the Doce River waters potable by treating it with natural flocculants. To learn about this, access www.governancapelodoce.com.br.
Preventive work at Governador Valadares, Minas Gerais
Preventive work at Governador Valadares, Minas Gerais
Families accommodated in rented houses at Mariana, Minas Gerais
Cleaning actions in Barra Longa, Minas Gerais, one of the areas affected by the accident
The contention barriers are made of 100% waterproof canvas and attached to the bottom of the river, close to both riverbanks