Miner Vale evacuates 200 people near `unstable' Brazilian dam
18 February 2019
Brazilian mining giant Vale on Saturday launched emergency evacuation of around 200 residents from an area near a tailings dam, amid fears that it was structurally weak and could burst like a similar barrier failure last month that killed 300 people.
Vale said in a statement that it had evacuated people living near the inactive B3/B4 dam of the Mar Azul mine about 25 kilometers south of Belo Horizonte, the capital of Minas Gerais state, after revising security data on the structure.
Vale on Sunday said “the Emergency Action Plan for Mining Dams (PAEBM) for the B3/B4 dam at the Mar Azul mine, in Nova Lima, Minas Gerais, was escalated to Level 2 on Saturday evening (16 February).
“This decision was made as a precautionary measure after the company reviewed data from analysis reports from specialised advisory firms. It is worth emphasising that the structure is inactive and this is a preventive measure,” it added.
“For safety reasons, Vale is removing about 200 people from an area comprising 49 buildings (homes and commercial buildings) in the region of Macacos, located 25 km from Belo Horizonte. The company is conducting the work with support of civil defense and other relevant authorities,” vale stated.
The evacuees are being assisted and registered at the community center, where they will receive additional information. Subsequently, Vale will accommodate them in hotels in the region.
The evacuation comes more than a week after two communities located close to nearby dams were forced to leave their homes on similar fears of dam failures.
The collapse last month of a separate Vale dam in the same area unleashed an avalanche of mud that engulfed nearby buildings and farms, killing an estimated 300 people in Brazil’s deadliest mining disaster.