Brumadinho: remediation progresses and dam safety is reinforced
Brumadinho: remediation progresses and dam safety is reinforced
More than 13,500 people have so far signed an indemnity agreement to compensate for the damage caused by the failure of the B1 Tailings Dam in Brumadinho and evacuations in other areas. For people living close to Vale’s dams, safety has been reinforced. For example, in 2022 alone, the company dismantled five more upstream dams, taking the total number to 12 since 2019. As a result, Vale’s Upstream Dam Dismantling Program is now 40% executed. In addition, economic development projects have been supporting the diversification of the economy and expanding tourism in the region. To carry out these initiatives, the company disbursed a total of R$37.2 billion between January 2019 and December 2022, including individual indemnity payments, compliance with the Comprehensive Remediation Judicial Agreement and other reparation measures.
The progress of these initiatives and transfers as part of the Remediation Agreement are on schedule and as foreseen by the signatories. (In addition to Vale, the state Government of Minas Gerais and several Legal Institutions signed the document in February 2021.) Around 300 projects are in the development phase and another 24, aimed at impacted municipalities, are in progress. Of these, nine are in Brumadinho and 15 are in 25 other municipalities in the Paraopeba River Basin. This work includes the structuring of Emergency Rooms to reinforce local health systems and the delivery of machinery for rural road maintenance. The total value of the Agreement is R$37.7 billion, of which approximately R$23.6 billion has been disbursed by the company so far, in amounts adjusted for inflation, equivalent to 58% budget execution.
The delivery of machines to municipalities included in the Agreement, including Fortuna de Minas, is part of the Rural Road Maintenance Program. (Vale publicity photo)
Among the payable obligations, in line with the defined schedule, Vale has so far made disbursements of R$4.5 billion referring to the four installments of the Mobility and Public Service Strengthening Program. The last installment, R$1.2 billion, was deposited in court in November 2022. Another R$3.4 billion has been allocated to projects involving demands in the affected communities, R$4.6 billion has been assigned to the Income Transfer program for affected people, and R$2.1 billion has gone to the Water Security Program, among other initiatives.
Emergency rooms are also being equipped in the municipalities that are part of the Agreement. (Vale publicity photo)
Dam safety and non-repetition
Lessons learned from the Brumadinho dam failure led to the reformulation of Vale’s dam management, in line with the best and most rigorous international practices, integrated with social movements and considering advances in legislation. One of the pillars of this management is the elimination of upstream dams like the B1 Dam. Since 2019, Vale has invested R$5.8 billion in its Dam Dismantling Program.
Out of 30 upstream dams, 12 (40%) have been eliminated since 2019. In five cases, the dismantling work was completed in 2022. Engineering work is now under way on all the other upstream dams. The elimination of upstream dams is one of Vale’s main initiatives to prevent incidents like the one in Brumadinho from happening again.
Baixo João Pereira Dam at Fábrica Mine, Congonhas, Minas Gerais, before and after the dismantling work. (Vale publicity photo)
At least one family member of each employee or contractor who died in the B1 dam failure has now signed an indemnity agreement with the company. This reflects Vale’s commitment to quickly and definitively compensate all those who suffered any impact from the dam failure or local evacuations.
Vale has now signed indemnity agreements worth more than R$3.15 billion, covering 13,500 people, including those impacted by the failure of the B1 Dam and those affected by evacuations in other locations.
Care for people
Care for people is the focus of Vale’s activities in Brumadinho. The main support mechanism is the Family Reference Program, which has a team of professionals to provide psychosocial assistance. Created in 2019, this initiative has so far benefited more than 3,300 people.
The Primary Health Care Network has also been strengthened in Brumadinho and 14 other impacted municipalities. Through the Health Cycle Program, which was completed in the second half of 2022, 2,500 health professionals were trained and 5,700 items of equipment were delivered to more than 140 Primary Health Care Centers.
The Health Cycle Program, completed in 2022, supported 143 primary health care centers in 15 municipalities. (Vale publicity photo)
Other infrastructure work
Vale has been carrying out social and infrastructure work as part of the process of mitigating the impacts of the B1 Dam failure. In order to improve people’s quality of life, boost local tourism potential and create employment and income opportunities, the Território Parque Project was created in Córrego do Feijão. This has led to the construction of a Central Plaza, Community Market and Cultural Center. In recent months, leisure spaces have been opened to the community, including a woodland area.
The construction work in Território Parque, Brumadinho, has advanced, with the completion of the Central Plaza. (Vale publicity photo)
By fostering local potential, supporting entrepreneurship and strengthening the workforce, Vale is contributing to the economic diversification of impacted municipalities, generating employment and income for the population. Since 2019, almost R$55 million has been invested in economic development projects, resulting in 2,000 people trained, 7,500 hours of courses and workshops held, 8,000 hours of technical assistance, and 175 enterprises and 108 social organizations supported in Brumadinho, the Paraopeba River Basin and evacuated municipalities.
In the area of tourism, there were some important deliveries last year. The Céu de Montanhas Catalog was launched, which presents 29 tourism experiences in Brumadinho. This catalog is the result of extensive mapping work, technical assistance and systematization of rural and community-based tourism in the region. To increase its visibility among national tour operators and travel agents, the municipality participated, for the first time, in ABAV Expo, Brazil’s largest tourism trade show.
In one of the proposed experiences, tourists harvest food and help prepare a typical Minas Gerais lunch. (photo: Marcelo Belém)
Around 42 hectares are undergoing environmental recovery, involving the planting of approximately 55,000 saplings. This area is equivalent to 42 soccer fields and it includes areas directly affected by the dam failure, as well as legally mandated minimum areas of native habitat, Permanent Preservation Areas and forest compensation areas.
Vale continues to carry out studies throughout the impacted area to enable complete environmental recovery. To do this, it has partnerships with teaching and research institutions such as Viçosa Federal University, a leading Brazilian university in the area of forestry science. The company only proceeds with reforestation after the tailings have been treated and the Minas Gerais Military Fire Department has given authorization.
Evolution of environmental restoration process in the location known as “Ground Zero.” (Vale publicity photo)
Remediation and compensation measures are also under way in Barão de Cocais, Macacos (Nova Lima), Antônio Pereira (Ouro Preto) and Itabirito, where families were evacuated when the emergency level of local dams increased. Around 3,300 people have signed indemnity agreements worth more than R$571 million in all. The signing of these agreements reflects Vale’s commitment to provide full compensation.
School Kitchen is one of the initiatives aimed at entrepreneurship under way in Barão de Cocais, Ouro Preto, Itabirito and Nova Lima. (Vale publicity photo)
In the district of Macacos, in December 2022, Vale signed a R$500 million agreement to conduct remediation work. In Barão de Cocais, the Compensation and Development Plan is under way and 10 new projects were recently approved. In Antônio Pereira, after a community consultation process, high-priority measures were identified and they are now in the development phase. In Itabirito, the Local Compensation and Development Plan is in the final stages of implementation. Among other things, there is an agreement to provide R$6.5 million to revamp the Specialized Rehabilitation Center, linked to the Itabirito branch of APAE, a charity for people with disabilities.
Remediation in numbers
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Another of the five upstream dams planned to be eliminated this year has started works